Council says no to “City of Yes” corner stores

Land use and zoning committees negotiating ahead of Wednesday vote

Council Says No to City of Yes’ Corner Store Component
Mayor Eric Adams (Getty)

Before a full vote on the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity, the City Council is already saying no to several of its provisions.

As a result, changes are being made to Mayor Eric Adams’ ambitious business zoning plan, Crain’s reported. Negotiations were ongoing as of Monday, with the plan expected to go before the council’s land use and zoning committees on Wednesday. It will be released prior to the votes.

The most significant concession is the elimination of a provision to allow for corner stores in residential areas. Outer-borough lawmakers fretted over how commerce could affect their neighborhoods, and also cast doubts on the permitting process for such stores.

Other concessions include scaling back a measure to ease life-science expansion, limiting it to Manhattan, as well as making it harder for people to operate certain businesses in their own homes, like a barbershop.

“We hope the City Council will advance the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity proposal, an important step toward modernizing our zoning regulations for a 21st century economy,” a Department of City Planning spokesperson said. “We will review any modifications that they make following a vote.”

But that will be a technical review to ensure the changes are legal. Assuming they are, the Adams administration will have to accept them to ensure the broader package is approved.

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While negotiations continue, much of the original plan is likely to stay in place, such as the permitting of micro-distribution centers in storefronts and allowing commercial activity on the upper floors of some residences.

Other discussions revolve around the regulation of last-mile delivery warehouses and funding for the Department of Buildings, though those changes may come separately from the City of Yes package.

A full City Council vote on the package is expected to take place next month after the revised legislation works its way back through the City Planning Commission. Business improvement districts and the Real Estate Board of New York are among the supporters of the package, but a majority of the city’s community boards voted against it in a public review.

The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is an appetizer for what may prove to be a more grueling struggle: the City of Yes for Housing Opportunity.

Holden Walter-Warner

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