Modified UWS retail rezoning plan will ensure vibrant streets

The plan to rezone retail storefronts on the Upper West Side has been modified by the City Planning Commission and will now go to the City Council this summer for a vote. These modifications are responsive to the many issues raised by business and property owners including those from the Real Estate Board of New York.

These proposed retail storefront restrictions would apply on Broadway from 72nd to 110th streets; Amsterdam Avenue (on the east side) from 73rd to 87th streets and 105th to 109th streets and (on the west side) from 75th to 110th streets; and Columbus Avenue from 72nd to 87th streets.

The plan limits store frontage to 40 feet wide along sections of the Columbus and Amsterdam corridors and limits banks to 25 feet on these avenues and Broadway. The aim of these regulations is to limit the number of banks and drug stores and other large stores and to promote a more vibrant streetscape.

The revised plan includes a simplified certification process that would allow existing businesses to apply for an expanded frontage up to 60 feet. This new certification would require applicants to do three things: show proof that the frontage will not exceed 60 feet; produce an affidavit that the use has existed for at least one year and that the use cannot otherwise expand due to physical restrictions, presence of other uses or regulatory limitations; and prove that at the time of the application, not more than one non-residential establishment exceeding 40 feet exists on the same block, the block directly across the street or the blocks immediately north and south of the applicant's block.

The modifications also include regulations that would allow active projects in the development pipeline to continue unaffected by the new rules for retail storefronts.  To qualify, the work must have a building permit no later than the final date of adoption of the zoning change and be finished within six months, or in the case of a landmarked building there must be a complete application at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) before the date of adoption and work must be completed within six months of receipt of an LPC permit.

Another plan revision is the grandfathering of existing large store frontages so they can remain permanently at their current sizes. This would permit storefronts that exceed the regulations to remain, even if the tenant changes or the space is vacant for more than two years.

The plan modifications provide additional flexibility to residential lobby frontages along Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, permitting them up to 25 feet rather than the previously proposed 15 feet.

For years, Upper West Side retail has been changing and growing. The modified plan is an improvement over the original one for ensuring the neighborhood’s local economy and vibrant street activity.

REBNY urges the City Council to approve the plan with these sensible modifications.

In other REBNY News:

Don’t miss out on REBNY’s upcoming Commercial Management Leadership Breakfast 7:30-10 am on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at The Hilton New York Grand Ballroom, 1335 Avenue of the Americas (between 53rd and 54th streets).

REBNY will present Gaston Silva of Vornado Realty Trust with the Edward A. Riguardi Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award; Edward Fallon of Brookfield Properties with the John M. Griffin Community Service Award; Patricia Revellese of SL Green with the On-Site Manager of the Year Award; Brian McCann of Cushman & Wakefield with the Portfolio Manager of the Year Award; Joe Bruno of Cushman & Wakefield with the Engineer of the Year Award; Elizabeth Taylor of Boston Properties with the Security Professional of the Year Award; Keith Garcia of Paramount Group with the Porter of the Year Award; and Maritza Mohr of Boston Properties with the Rising Star of the Year Award.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Register online at REBNY.com. For more information, contact Cindy Ramotar at cramotar@rebny.com.

Attention sales brokers, mortgage brokers, accountants and bankers, REBNY is holding its First Finance Cocktail Party from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 7 at Club Metropolitan, 146 West 57th Street. Tickets cost $35. For more information, contact Desiree Jones at djones@rebny.com