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Updated 5/23/12

A new Upper West Side Zoning resolution intended to limit the size of store frontage that a single tenant can occupy. REBNY has worked with the Department of City Planning on behalf of the business community and real estate owners to improve the resolution and avoid negative economic consequences. REBNY believes that the below modifications to the proposed zoning change along with the Department of City Planning's commitments to limit the applicability to the Upper West Side are responsive to many of the issues raised by business and property owners. REBNY appreciate the responsiveness of Chair Amanda Burden and her staff at DCP to work cooperatively to mitigate the proposal's adverse impact. We will continue to work with City Planning and the City Council as this proposal is refined.

On April 23rd, 2012 the New York City Department of City Planning staff presented several modifications to the Upper West Side Zoning resolution at the Commission's Review Session.  Here is a summary of what was said:

  1. Lobby widths along Columbus and Amsterdam be permitted up to 25'. 

  2. All non-conforming spaces that exist at the time of adoption will be grandfathered.  DCP confirmed that these spaces may be subdivided later into additional non-conforming stores - e.g., a 100' storefront could be subdivided into two spaces measuring 50' and 50'.

  3. Projects in the pipeline at the time of adoption will be grandfathered.  DCP is working on text to define this concept, but expects it will capture projects where DOB permits have been pulled and/or leases have been signed, and work can be completed within 6 months.

  4. The Chair’s Certification to waive frontage regulations for landmarked buildings upon receipt of a Certificate of Appropriateness is no longer included in the proposal, but existing frontages in excess of 40’ will be grandfathered in perpetuity, removing any potential that a landmarked building would be forced to subdivide frontage after an extended vacancy.

  5. A new Chair's Certification will be created to provide an opportunity for existing businesses to expand.  This would work as follows:  A business that has been in place for at least one year and that wishes to expand up to 60' would show that it is unable to expand upstairs, downstairs or around the back, AND demonstrate that there is not more than one establishment greater than 40' on the same block, across the street, or on the adjacent blockfronts.  DCP estimates that approximately one half of the blocks in the zoning area would be eligible for an expanded store under this framework, and is working on a checklist of requirements that the business would have to demonstrate.  Note that this Certification would NOT be available to banks.

  6. The text will be amended to clarify that all authorizations and certifications under the zoning will include a role for the Community Board 

The modifications will be drafted as zoning text and sent to the Commissioners for their review.  There were some questions from the Commissioners but they seemed to be supportive, particularly Anna Levin who noted that she had been uncertain about the proposal but was now happy to support it.  A vote is expected May 9, 2012. 


Resources

> 5/23/12 Real Estate Weekly, Column: Upper West Side Retail Storefront Rezoning

> 2/22/12 Real Estate Weekly Article on The UWS Rezoning

> 2/12/12 Testimony in opposition to the proposed Special Enhanced Commercial District - Upper West Side Neighborhood Retail Street Zoning

>DCP Overview