Proposed Zoning Supports Small Businesses, Housing Opportunities & Sustainability

Proposed Zoning Supports Small Businesses, Housing Opportunities & Sustainability

By Katherine Baerga

Last month, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced new zoning amendments that would support small businesses, create affordable housing, and promote sustainability. The measures advance his vision of transforming the Big Apple into an inclusive, equitable “City of Yes,” based on the previously released Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery.

The proposed zoning changes seek to modernize the city’s zoning codes, streamlining the land use process and giving businesses greater flexibility to evolve and meet market demands.

Zoning for Economic Opportunity

The first zoning amendment would grant businesses greater leeway in repurposing their space to meet the demands of a post-pandemic city. Specifically, the amendment would do the following:

  • Eliminate geographic limitations on certain businesses, including life sciences, custom manufacturing, make-retail, and nightlife
  • Remove obstacles to repurposing space, giving businesses and the economy increased flexibility to adapt
  • Provide expansion opportunities for local businesses that don’t require relocation or trigger additional parking needs

Zoning for Housing Opportunity

The second amendment would promote the creation of additional housing in all five boroughs through the following:

  • Increase the floor area ratio for all types of affordable housing, similar to the existing allowance for affordable senior housing
  • Expand the acceptable range of housing types and sizes to accommodate a wider range of households
  • Streamline conversions of underutilized commercial buildings into residential spaces
  • Reduce unnecessary parking requirements that add expense and eat up space that could be converted into residences

Zoning for Zero Carbon

The third zoning amendment would advance the city’s ambitious carbon reduction goals through the following:

  • Eliminate obstacles that inhibit new clean energy storage and uses
  • Encourage building retrofits for sustainability, such as increasing rooftop coverage for solar panels
  • Remove barriers to the electrification of building systems, including heat pumps and HVAC systems

To go into effect, the proposed amendments need to work through the land-use review process. The New York Post reported that the approximately seven-month public review process will begin in early 2023 for the climate-friendly zoning measure. Review for the economic development amendment is slated to begin in mid-2023, with the housing amendment scheduled for early 2024.

For assistance in determining how current zoning regulations affect your upcoming projects, please contact Metropolis Group at 212.233.6344.