After several years of persistence and research, it is official – as of June 28, the Upper West Side Zoning change was approved and the Zoning Text Amendment will create the Upper West Side Enhanced Commercial District. The Zoning Text Amendment ensures a certain level of protection to Upper West Side small business owners who historically have helped make the Upper West Side eclectic, but who are now falling victim to large banks and chains that are occupying an increasingly extensive amount of ground floor space along the avenues.
In order to ensure that present and future small businesses can reside on the ground floor, the Zoning Text Amendment will cap the length of ground floor commercial street frontage for banks on portions of Broadway, Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues at 25 feet for any single user. Existing banks and other large businesses (many of which have frontages of just under 40 feet) that exceed the new requirements are permitted to remain as-is. This will mean that any new developments that require more space can expand upstairs or downstairs. The approval additionally promotes small business owners by requiring a minimum number of stores per block on Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues.
“This zoning change will go a long way to safeguard the small business character of the Upper West Side and maintain the neighborhood’s trademark vibrancy and diversity,” Melissa stated. “These protections are long overdue, as many long-time local businesses have been unfairly pushed out by chains and banks. With the adoption of this re-zoning, we can prevent large businesses and commercial banks from continuing to lease exceedingly large ground floor spaces, depriving our ‘mom and pop’ stores from an opportunity to serve the neighborhood and thrive. I thank Council Member Gale Brewer who has been a tireless leader in bringing this re-zoning to passage. I also thank Speaker Quinn, Land Use Chair Leroy Comrie, Zoning and Franchises Chair Mark Weprin, Council Member Inez Dickens, City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden and all of her staff, and of course Community Board 7 and all of the local residents who spoke out on the need for this re-zoning.”