Mayor Adams Advances The ‘City Of Yes’ Plan To Boost NYC Economy

October 30, 2023

NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Dan Garodnick today kicked off the public review process for the “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” proposal.

A set of citywide zoning changes that will further fuel the city’s ongoing economic success and pave the way for a more inclusive future. Together, the 18 proposed changes will bolster the city’s industrial sectors, revitalize commercial corridors, foster vibrant neighborhoods, and support growing industries, such as life sciences, nightlife, amusements, and urban agriculture.

“…will now go to all 59 community boards.”

The proposal was officially referred by DCP today to local community boards, borough boards, and borough presidents, kicking off the public review process as Mayor Adams continues his “Working People’s Tour,” celebrating New York City’all-time job record, with 4.7 million total jobs, and the recovery of the nearly 1 million private-sector jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second of Mayor Adams’ “City of Yes” proposals, the “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” proposal will now go to all 59 community boards, as well as all five borough presidents and boroughs boards for review, followed by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.

“Just this month, we celebrated a major victory for New York City’s comeback, hitting an all-time total jobs record. But we were clear then that our work was not done, and the ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ plan will be the next major victory for our city,” said Mayor Adams. “These 18 changes will unlock family-sustaining jobs for our neighbors, sustained and inclusive growth in our communities, and a vibrant future for our city. New York City is back — now, we’re ready for the next step forward.”


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“From making it easier for small businesses open and expand, to encouraging cutting-edge industries like the life sciences, the “City of Yes” will deliver economic opportunities throughout the five boroughs,” said Maria Torres-Springer, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce. “New York City is already the center of the world economy, but by eliminating outdated rules that stifle entrepreneurship, we can grow even stronger.”

“For too long, small business owners have had to navigate a byzantine mix of outdated zoning rules that have stymied their growth and led to vacant storefronts in our neighborhoods. ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ will cut the red tape and provide the flexibility needed for our mom-and-pops, and our neighborhoods, to succeed,” said DCP Director Garodnick. “To have a modern economy that works, we need our zoning to meet the moment, and that’s what this proposal will do. We look forward to a robust public review process as we move towards a more prosperous city.”

Boosting Industrial Businesses

“City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” will be the largest support for industrial jobs in the history of New York City’s zoning code. By allowing small-scale clean manufacturing to locate in commercial areas for the first time, it will more than double the space available for businesses like pottery studios, microbreweries, and apparel makers — expanding that area by more than 14,000 acres. It would also create new zoning tools for traditional industrial areas, establishing new “core,” “transition,” and “growth” manufacturing zones — addressing longstanding complaints that overly restrictive manufacturing zoning rules have held back the city’s industrial sector.

Revitalizing Commercial Corridors and Building Vibrant Neighborhoods

“City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” will add much-needed flexibility for local shops looking to open and expand and help reduce storefront vacancies in commercial corridors. It will do so by lifting time limits on reactivating existing, vacant storefronts in historic districts and residential areas; simplifying rules about which business types can locate on commercial streets; modernizing loading dock rules so buildings can adapt over time; enabling commercial activity on upper floors, provided there is separation from any residential uses; and updating business classifications in zoning to match the modern economy.

This initiative will also foster vibrant neighborhoods by encouraging safe and sustainable micro-distribution deliveries, reducing conflicts between auto repair shops and pedestrians, and introducing urban design rules to ensure new buildings are contributing to the interactivity of their neighborhoods. In addition, “City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” will create new processes to consider commercial space on large residential campuses, corner stores in residential areas, and waivers for business adaptation and growth.

Support Growing Industries and Nightlife

The proposal will also support key industries that help drive the city’s economic growth but face unique zoning challenges, including urban agriculture, life sciences, nightlife and entertainment, amusements, and home-based businesses. As part of the proposal’s changes to modernize nightlife and entertainment regulations, it would shift restrictions on dancing to be tied to a venue’s capacity, rather than arbitrary zoning districts — removing the last vestige of the often-discriminatory Cabaret Law from New York City’s zoning code.

An annotated version of the full text of the initiative, shared with community boards as a part of DCP’s work to be transparent and collaborative with New York communities earlier this month, is available online. The text amendment will now be referred to all 59 community boards, all five borough presidents, and all five borough boards for review within 60 days. After those 60 days, the City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing and vote. If the commission approves the proposal, it will go to the City Council for a hearing and vote.

“City of Yes for Economic Opportunity” is the second component of Mayor Adams’ three-part “City of Yes” plan, comprised of three bold, citywide zoning text amendments that will modernize the city’s zoning to foster a greener, more affordable, more prosperous city — instead of allowing outdated zoning rules to hinder the city’s goals and growth. The first, “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality,” was approved by the City Planning Commission in September and will be voted upon by the City Council later this fall. The third, “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity,” is undergoing environmental review and will be referred for public review in spring 2024.

“These proposed changes are long overdue and reflect this administration’s commitment to being the City of Yes,” said New York City Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “Archaic and onerous zoning restrictions have held back the full potential of New York City’s entrepreneurs for too long. Through these common-sense reforms, New Yorkers in every neighborhood will have an easier time starting, growing, and operating their small businesses.”

“To reach a more equitable, sustainable, healthy Food Forward NYC by 2031, our food system must do even more to drive economic opportunity and provide good jobs,” said Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “Through groundbreaking ways of addressing zoning challenges that have historically been a barrier to small-scale food and beverage production in commercial districts and residential-district retail operations, ‘City of Yes’ for Economic Opportunity will bring the kind of support to local food businesses and M/WBE vendors that will enable us to make even bigger strides in ensuring equitable access to good food across all New York City neighborhoods. We thank this administration and DCP Director Garodnick for their partnership and this critical investment in the city’s good food infrastructure.”

“This initiative creates exciting new economic opportunities for the food and urban agriculture sector, while also removing barriers to locating and expanding urban agriculture businesses and activities in New York City,” said Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture Executive Director Qiana Mickie. “The proposed forward-looking policy changes include allowing light-industrial businesses that process food or manufacture value-added food products in commercial districts, allowing enclosed agriculture within commercial districts, and permitting rooftop greenhouses on non-residential buildings. They also address confusing rules for composting by clarifying that small-scale composting can be considered an ‘accessory use’ and that neighborhood-focused recycling facilities can be in commercial storefronts. City of Yes directly supports our efforts to advance environmental justice and food equity, while creating opportunity in the green economy.”

“The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is a key example of the Adams Administration’s commitment to maximizing urban design to fuel economic growth and generate good-paying jobs for New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “After celebrating the city’s historic jobs recovery milestone, we are excited about this rezoning plan and how it will support key industries, grow businesses, and help create a more vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers.”

“By tackling burdensome and outdated regulatory constraints, the Adams administration is paving the way for local business to contribute to and take part in a thriving economic recovery,” said B.J. Jones, executive director “New” New York. “The commonsense reforms included in the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity will help entrepreneurs who want to start new businesses, local stores seeking to expand, and building owners who want to activate vacant storefronts, revitalizing commercial corridors in neighborhoods across the city.”

“Ensuring that our industries can not only grow but also compete in today’s changing environment is key to maintaining New York City’s status as a world-class city,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “The upcoming public review process will provide crucial input on this plan to help clear hurdles so that businesses can establish themselves in New York and thrive.”

“There is no time to waste in addressing the generational, intersectional crises facing our families. By creating jobs, enhancing our manufacturing capabilities and supporting our small businesses — the lifeblood of our communities — we can further uplift our city and fuel an even stronger economic recovery coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “As the public review process begins, I look forward to working jointly with our city partners and Queens residents to ensure this proposal is as community-focused, community-centric and community-informed as possible.”

“New York City’s zoning laws have barely changed since 1961. To remain competitive and support our small businesses, we must modernize our zoning and provide clear, sensible regulations instead of the current tangle of archaic rules,”said New York City Council Majority Leader Keith Powers. “I’m excited to see these zoning changes advance to the public review period and hope that others across the city will support this much-needed update.”

“As the city looks toward economic opportunity and sustainable growth, it was imperative that we use this moment to protect our manufacturing districts, which have been ignored for decades, but play an integral role as an economic engine of New York City,” said New York City Councilmember Jennifer Gutiérrez. “From trash and supply chain management, to large employers and small entrepreneurs – the manufacturing districts have been threatened for decades by the encroachment of commercial and residential uses. I have been encouraged by DCPs willingness to engage with our coalition of elected officials, advocates and business owners as we work to drive forward the legacy of industrial revitalization and I look forward to continued collaboration.”

“I want to thank Mayor Eric Adams and Department of City Planning Director Dan Garodnick for putting forth an innovative initiative that will boost not just the city’s overall economy but our local borough economies as well,” said New York Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez.“’The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ initiative will help support small business owners and local entrepreneurs to grow as the economy grows, while reimagining our streetscapes in a more equitable way for all by establishing better urban design guidelines.”

 “Mayor Adams has navigated us through COVID to an economic recovery: there are now more jobs in New York City than ever in history,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity initiative will take us to even greater unprecedented heights. The mayor has proposed 18 zoning changes that will allow new businesses to grow and thrive in our city. This will open up a wealth of opportunities for growing business sectors—including biotech, cultural institutions, and urban agriculture—by eliminating obsolete zoning restrictions on where they can operate. It will revitalize our streets by allowing vacant storefronts to be filled, and creating pedestrian friendly ground floor requirements for new buildings. Today’s plan will create jobs, economic growth, and vibrancy on our city blocks. Today we begin the public review process, setting us on the path to implementing this bold, innovative plan.”

“A strong industrial sector is a crucial source of jobs for BIPOC and immigrant New Yorkers, and a key component of an equitable economic development strategy for our city,” said Barika X. Williams, executive director, Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development. “As long-time industrial advocates we commend the Department of City Planning for recognizing the need to update this portion of New York City’s zoning text. We look forward to working with DCP and the City Council to ensure that we have the zoning tools we need to preserve and expand our city’s industrial sector.”

“Mayor Eric Adams’ ‘City of Yes for Economic Opportunity’ is set to empower and uplift our small businesses. This comprehensive initiative aims to address various obstacles faced by our local businesses, such as exorbitant commercial rents and the surging trend of online shopping,” said Lisa Sorin, president, Bronx Chamber of Commerce. “Through measures like simplifying zoning regulations, eliminating deadlines for filling vacant storefronts, and implementing crucial reforms, this plan unlocks opportunities for growth and stability within our small business community. As a chamber leader, I have waited for a strategic plan such as this one that not only fosters economic and workforce development but also recognizes and confronts the unique challenges of small businesses. The prospects that lie ahead following the implementation of this plan are truly promising, and I eagerly anticipate the positive outcomes it will bring.”

“The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity because we, as a city, must continue to eliminate unnecessary obstacles for small businesses,” said Randy Peers, president and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “The Adams Administration has been ahead of the curve when it comes to modernizing and opening new doors to local entrepreneurs. We look forward to the public review process of this policy that focuses on helping the small businesses and that are the lifeblood of Brooklyn and all of New York.”

“New York needs clear and modern zoning regulations that reflect our city’s needs,” said Jessica Walker, president and CEO, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “This proposal will help to reduce retail vacancies, support entrepreneurship and ensure a wider range of businesses can open, which is vital for the city’s continued economic growth.”

“The City of Yes Plan offers a wide array of common-sense citywide changes that will drive an equitable economy to help our small businesses open, grow, and succeed,” said Linda Baran, president and CEO, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. “Our economy cannot firmly step forward towards prosperity with one foot stuck in the past. By revisiting outdated guidelines, this plan will give our small businesses a leg up towards long-term success and create a truly dynamic future for our city.”

“Small businesses are driving our economic recovery in Queens and throughout New York City, contributing to the record number of jobs announced earlier this month,” said Thomas Grech, president and CEO, Queens Chamber of Commerce. “The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity initiative will continue this progress by removing outdated regulations, allowing small businesses to grow and create opportunity in all five boroughs.”

“The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity proposed zoning text amendment will make much needed updates to modernize the city’s zoning regulations, and we applaud the city for putting forward such an ambitious proposal,” said Jesse Lazar, executive director, American Institute of Architects New York (AIANY). “AIANY is particularly supportive of the proposals that would enable the city to unlock the economic potential in both historically economically significant neighborhoods and historically underserved neighborhoods by allowing more mixed-use development, permitting more adaptive reuse, and developing a commercial streetscape framework that is pedestrian friendly.”

“As a bustling mixed-use downtown, City of Yes for Economic Opportunity will create jobs and drive growth in our commercial corridors,” said Regina Myer, president, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “Revising outdated regulations will unlock sweeping economic opportunities for neighborhoods like downtown Brooklyn and the businesses within them. We celebrate the advancement of this transformative plan and look forward to continuing to work with the Adams administration to grow the city.”

“As advocates for over 1.3 million freelancers and small business owners in the five boroughs, we, at the Freelancers Union, wholeheartedly support Mayor Eric Adams’ City of Yes for Economic Opportunity proposal. This initiative is a significant step in addressing the unique challenges faced by our members, such as affordable business spaces and emerging industries,” said Rafael Espinal, executive director, Freelancers Union. “It represents a major boon for New York City’s freelance and small business community, demonstrating the city’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, economic growth, and the well-being of its residents. We commend the city and DCP for their efforts and stand ready to assist in making our community aware of the importance of this plan.”

“The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is a crucial step towards revitalizing our city and supporting local businesses,” said Barbara A. Blair, president, Garment District Alliance. “It is absolutely vital that we prioritize initiatives that will remove barriers to success, and ensure New York City remains a vibrant and dynamic environment for our small businesses to flourish. The Garment District Alliance is proud to support Mayor Eric Adams and Department of City Planning Director and City Planning Commission Chair Dan Garodnick in these efforts.”

“The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity amendment is a groundbreaking initiative that will remove barriers for small businesses and support thriving commercial hubs,” said Laura Rothrock, president, Long Island City Partnership. “I commend the Department of City Planning for championing this effort, and hope that the public will also see the positive impact its implementation could have on neighborhoods across the five boroughs, and in communities like Long Island City, which welcome a new era of economic resurgence.”

“City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is a no-brainer. It fosters a more adaptive and dynamic environment for our local entrepreneurs, simplifies and streamlines zoning regulations, and makes it easier for businesses to find and utilize space,” said Carlo A. Scissura, Esq., president and CEO, The New York Building Congress. “It is a strategic maneuver that will firmly cement New York City’s position as a beacon of opportunity and innovation. The pandemic challenged the resilience of our small businesses and tested the strength of our economic foundation. Having more flexibility in zoning for local businesses to best use their existing space is precisely the rational response our city needs to not only recover but thrive.”

“Now that the historically discriminatory Cabaret Law was repealed, we applaud Mayor Adams for taking the next critical step to eliminate the dancing prohibition at so many of our city’s restaurants, bars, and nightclubs,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director, NYC Hospitality Alliance. “This is not Footloose, and the city should not be telling businesses their customers can’t dance, rather they should encourage self-expression through dance and support our small businesses, while implementing proper safety protocols and policies at our local venues. We look forward to working with Mayor Adams’ Administration, Director Dan Garodnick of the Department of City Planning, and the City Council to get our city’s groove back.” 

“The business community is the lifeblood of our local economy. We must evolve our current zoning regulations to adapt to today’s marketplace needs and promote space for the longevity of our industrial businesses,” said Mike Cusick, president and CEO, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC). “SIEDC is proud to support Mayor Adams and the New York City Department of City Planning’s City of Yes for Economic Opportunity program, which will enable our businesses to further grow, and marks a key step in sustaining our core industrial firms.”

“We applaud the city’s investment in businesses through City of Yes for Economic Opportunity to encourage growth and innovation in Union Square and business districts across the city. Adapting zoning codes to meet our current and future needs will help streamline the process of filling vacant retail and office space for business owners and builders alike, whether it be for traditional or creative uses,” said Julie Stein, executive director, Union Square Partnership. “Activated storefronts and diversity in ground floor offerings will lead to more vibrant street life that revitalizes our neighborhoods and anchors business district recovery. We look forward to the continued collaboration with the city to provide New Yorkers and visitors with the best possible experience, not only in Union Square but across all of Manhattan’s neighborhoods.”

“In this uncertain economic environment, entrepreneurs and property owners need to be able find creative uses for ground floor retail space,” said Jessica Lappin, president, The Alliance for Downtown New York. “These proposed zoning text amendments will go a long way towards encouraging the sort of creativity that is needed to develop the retail corridors of the future.”

“We at Silvercup are looking forward to the new zoning text changes that are being put forth by the New York City Department of City Planning,” said Alan Suna, chairman, Silvercup Studios. “Much of the current zoning was drafted many, many years ago and the rules are no longer applicable to the way we need to live and work in today’s world. These new rules will make it easier for us to construct better film and television studios and create thousands of great paying jobs. We applaud the aspirations of the ‘City of Yes’ and its support for a modern industrial economy.”

“Our city is ready to advance our economic and environmental resilience,” said Derek Pitts, CEO, Farm. One Inc. “This proposal is a crucial step towards creating an environment where businesses can advance innovation where New Yorkers need it most – right in their local neighborhoods. Supporting sustainability-minded industries that have legacy zoning challenges is an incredibly pragmatic approach.”

“For more than half a century, economic growth in many parts of the city has been stunted by obsolete zoning laws and regulations,” said Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO, Partnership for New York City. “The City of Yes proposals are designed to ensure that we are no longer putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of business investments and job creation across the five boroughs.”

“City of Yes represents a shift from pandemic recovery to economic renewal. The proposed changes to zoning that Mayor Adams has put forward reflect this administration’s desire to strengthen our local economic engines while creating the launchpad for the newest and promising industries to take off,” said Gregory J Morris, CEO, New York City Employment and Training Coalition. “With these changes in place our small businesses will do better, our commercial corridors will be more active, and our commitment to economic development and workforce development will be clear and sustainable. By committing now to the mayor’s bold vision – from manufacturing expansion to the modernization of nightlife regulations – and working in partnership to see it through, we can truly be the city we aspire to be in service to generations to come.”

“Evergreen believes that thoughtful updates to manufacturing zoning can reduce burdens on industrial businesses that wish to expand, thereby increasing the number of working-class jobs in NYC,” said Leah Archibald, executive director, Evergreen . “We look forward to working with DCP to develop a modern zoning code that protects New York City manufacturers today and nurtures industrial job growth in the future.”

“Mayor Adams and the Department of City Planning have taken a significant step to end unjust restrictions on dancing in New York City, preserving our First Amendment right of expression while ensuring health and safety regulations,” said Greg Miller, director, Dance Parade New York. “This promotes inclusivity, cultural diversity, and artistic freedom for all New Yorkers.”

“This proposal is a catalyst for economic growth,” said Chad Purkey, vice president, ABNY. “By updating outdated and stringent zoning rules, the ‘City of Yes Economic Opportunity’ initiative will foster greater flexibility and development to support our city’s commercial districts and business sector. These proposed text amendments are important steps in supporting the city’s ongoing recovery and being responsive to a rapidly evolving economy.”

“These zoning changes are critical for New York to stay competitive amidst a number of fundamental shifts in the city’s economy that have accelerated since the start of the pandemic,” said Jonathan Bowles, executive director, Center for an Urban Future. “By allowing more flexibility, they will help ensure the continued vibrancy of our retail corridors in an age when ecommerce is causing huge changes in how people shop and allow office districts to make needed changes in an age of hybrid work.”

New York City’s zoning regulations have remained unchanged for decades, limiting the potential for growth and innovation for small businesses and entrepreneurs across the city,” said Maulin Mehta, New York director, Regional Plan Association (RPA). “The City of Yes for Economic Opportunity reform proposals are an opportunity to create vibrant commercial corridors, not just in Manhattan but all five boroughs — a crucial component to economic equity discussed in RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan. We applaud Mayor Adams and his administration for their commitment to creating a streamlined, intuitive zoning code.”

New York City’s nightlife is an essential part of the city’s culture and of our economy,” said Jen Lyon, board president, New York Independent Venue Association. “We applaud Mayor Adams on recognizing our sector’s importance and implementing the City of Yes.”

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