The Real Deal New York

Columbus Ave. BID cries out against UWS rezoning

February 07, 2012 04:00PM

The Controversial Zoning Change Proposed For The Upper West Side Has Been Widely Denounced By The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District, according to a new release received today. The zoning revision would limit the size of Retail Stores On Columbus Avenue, from 72nd to 87th streets.

The rezoning was proposed by the New York City Department of Planning in January in an attempt to stem what Upper West Side residents perceived as the growth of larger chain stores and banks in the neighborhood. It would also place limits on retail spaces on Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, from West 72nd to West 110th streets. But Columbus Avenue has little need for protections, the BID said, as it lacks large development sites and is already protected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The proposal creates “a profound threat of unanticipated consequences,” Columbus Avenue BID Executive Director Barbara Adler said in an earlier joint public hearing co-sponsored by Community Board 7 and City Planning. Adler also called the plan “a solution looking for a problem,” at the meeting.

At the very least Columbus Avenue should be excluded from the area covered in the rezoning, Columbus Avenue BID Chairman Robert Quinlan noted.

“Although City Planning’s proposal is perhaps well-intentioned for Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, where there are bigger sites, newer buildings and more change underway,” it makes no sense for Columbus Avenue, he said.

“Stores here have a long history of evolving over time, while retaining the essential character of the [Columbus] Avenue,” said Huntley Gill, a preservationist and Columbus Avenue BID board member. “This requires creativity on the part of the owners and tenants… That reduction of flexibility [proposed by the re-zoning] has substantial risk.” — Guelda Voien