Harlem rezoning critics call for protecting local retailers

New York /
Apr.April 01, 2008 05:34 PM

Fearing the loss of small, local businesses on Harlem’s 125th Street corridor, critics of the city’s controversial rezoning plan urged a powerful City Council subcommittee today to set aside space for independent retailers or even limit new chain stores.

The full council is scheduled at the end of April to vote on the rezoning plan that would also create a special arts and cultural district on 125th Street. Critics charge the plan would overwhelm the community with dense office buildings and price local residents and small businesses out of Harlem.

“It’s been devastating,” said Regina Smith, executive director of the Harlem Business Alliance, which claims that small businesses are already being forced out by new developers. “The rate at which they are closing is extremely troubling to us.”

The Municipal Art Society of New York testified before the council’s Land Use Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises that 71 firms that employ about 975 employees in the area are threatened with direct displacement by the rezoning. Most of the businesses sell clothing and accessories.

The society proposed limiting the size of Retailers Along 125th Street and requiring developments larger than 60,000 square feet to reserve space for independent local owned businesses. The proposal also calls ensuring that retail space remains permanently affordable.

Rezoning critics note that long-standing retailers like the famed record store Bobby’s Happy House and other shops have been forced out recently, as large chain stores and shopping mall developers like Kimco Realty Corp. acquire land in Harlem.

Smith noted that many small retailers have “demolition clauses” in their leases that essentially force them to give up their locations with little to no legal recourse.

An aide to Council Member Inez Dickens, who represents Central Harlem, said she is negotiating language into the rezoning plan that would compensate local businesses and find alternative locations for them to continue their businesses.

City Planning spokesperson Rachaele Raynoff said, “It was made very clear that we believe there has been an enormous amount of outreach. There is a willingness to discuss and negotiate any remaining concerns with the council member.”


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Matt Lauer exposes Hamptons estate to the market
Matt Lauer exposes Hamptons estate to the market
Matt Lauer exposes Hamptons estate to the market
Gordon Ramsey and his Lucky Cat restaurant (Lucky Cat)
Gordon Ramsay to open first South Florida restaurant in Miami Beach
Gordon Ramsay to open first South Florida restaurant in Miami Beach
(Image by Wolfgang & Hite via Dezeen)
Hudson Yards megadevelopment inspires a new line of sex toys
Hudson Yards megadevelopment inspires a new line of sex toys
(iStock)
CoStar Q2 net income down 17%
CoStar Q2 net income down 17%
214 West 109th Street and Isaac Chetrit (Google Maps)
Chetrits to invest $200M in Manhattan apartment portfolio
Chetrits to invest $200M in Manhattan apartment portfolio
Proptech revolution grows as landlords turn to big data to manage properties
Proptech revolution grows as landlords turn to big data to manage properties
Proptech revolution grows as landlords turn to big data to manage properties
The Birch Group CEO Mark Meisner and 700 Alexander Park Drive (LinkedIn)
Birch Group buys Princeton office portfolio from BentallGreenOak
Birch Group buys Princeton office portfolio from BentallGreenOak
PHE at 51 Jay Street and 4 Hunts Lane (Compass)
Dumbo penthouse leads Brooklyn’s luxury market
Dumbo penthouse leads Brooklyn’s luxury market
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...