New Commercial Zoning Protections Proposed for Upper West Side/Manhattan Valley

The NYC Department of City Planning announced earlier this week the initiation of public review on a series of proposed zoning regulations that aim to protect the vibrant retail character of the Upper West Side community.  An original version of the proposal did not include the Manhattan Valley portion of the Upper West Side in these zoning protections.  However, after advocacy by local community leaders, CB 7 members, small businesses and Melissa’s office, City Planning has agreed to extend these protections to parts of Amsterdam Avenue in my district from W. 96th Street to W. 110th Street.  For details on these zoning protections, click here. 

“We must do all that we can to ensure that diverse retailers continue to define the distinct character of the Upper West Side,” said City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am thrilled that part of the Manhattan Valley neighborhood which I represent is being included in this proposed zoning change, so that it can also be protected from the increasing dominance of banks and retailers that tend to occupy a large ground floor footprint, leaving little room for the diverse small businesses that fuel our local economy. I applaud Commissioner Burden and my colleagues for their leadership on this zoning change and look forward to voting for it in the City Council.”

These new zoning changes aim to slow down a trend that we are seeing in many parts of our city, whereby banks and chain stores are leasing exceedingly large ground floor commerical spaces.  This practice reduces the diversity of our streetscape and retail corridors and does not provide opportunities to the local small businesses that make the Upper West Side the vibrant neighborhood that it is. 

The zoning protections being proposed by City Planning will include restrictions on frontage space for stores, banks and residential lobbies, and once adopted, will apply to new developments as well as alterations, conversions and changes in use in existing buildings.

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One thought on “New Commercial Zoning Protections Proposed for Upper West Side/Manhattan Valley

  1. This zoning ordinance is targeted at new buildings to control development rather than solve the issues and needs of the community. The small business owner will not get reduced rents or any preferential treatment or protections. Additional competively priced retail space designed for small businesses will not be created. Big stores and businesses will not be affected by the restrictions and may actually benefit. Gentrification, high rents, taxes, market trends and obsolete business models the primary causes of the mom and pop demise will not be addressed. The attempts to stack the deck will prove to be ineffective and big business and banks wrongly perceived as the enemy will not be contained.

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