Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Public forum set to discuss special business district in the East Village

Community Board 3's Economic Development Committee is hosting a public forum on June 7 to discuss a proposed special district in the East Village "to encourage retail diversity and promote small and independent businesses."

Here's more via a Q-and-A on the CB3 website on the issue:

Why a special district in the East Village and why now?

CB 3 has experienced a dramatic loss of small “mom & pop” businesses in the past 10+ years, and a resulting decrease in the diversity and affordability of local goods and services. Driven by a combination of high commercial rents and real estate taxes, competition from an over-proliferation and concentration of destination nightlife businesses and national chain stores who can afford exorbitant rents, and a lack of daytime foot traffic, the loss of small businesses has been sustained in recent years.

What are the goals of a special district in CB 3?
• preserve the unique, individual character of our neighborhoods
• facilitate a diverse, affordable, and appropriate mix of retail and service providers that meet local needs
• encourage daytime businesses that do not have a disruptive effect on residents
• support existing businesses serving local needs
• limit the ground floor presence of inactive street wall frontages
• promote strong and affordable neighborhoods that are inviting to all New Yorkers, especially families

How will a special district affect certain uses?

The special district is not meant to push out existing businesses and nightlife establishments. Rather, the effort is to strike a balance and create a level playing field for small businesses. In the current proposal, eating/drinking establishments, banks, and chains would have restrictions on maximum total size (2,500 square feet) and maximum street wall width (25 linear feet). They would also be prohibited from combining storefronts across separate buildings.

Additionally, there would be restrictions on how much of a block’s street frontage can be occupied by a particular use — for example, no more than 25 percent of any given block’s street frontage can be occupied by eating/drinking establishments and there cannot be more than 1 chain store or bank per block.

I am thinking of opening a business in the East Village that does not meet the parameters of the special district. Does your current proposal take exceptions into consideration?

In the current proposal, applications for exceptions will require a mandatory review process and referral to the Community Board for a recommendation.

Based on the current proposal, where will the special district be located?
• 14th Street to Houston; 2nd Avenue to Avenue D (excluding N/S sides of Houston and 14th)
• St Marks between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue

The meeting is Wednesday, June 7, from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Sirovich Senior Center, 331 E. 12th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.


Anonymous said...

Some people complain about government "over-reaching" yet never ask why government finds it necessary to create laws proposed by the CB3, it's to keep a handful of powerful landowners from designing neighborhoods that profit them at the expense of the neighborhoods residents and small businesses. I fully support this special district plan and it must be enacted as soon as possible before the EV is hollowed out completely.

JAM said...

i love the idea of preserving/helping small mom & pop businesses, but is this legal? seems like it could be tied up in court for years. good luck.

dwg said...

Excellent idea.

Anonymous said...

High real estate taxes are mentioned, but there is no mention about heavy government regulations. Get rid of both of them.
Anarchy = liberty = peace

Anonymous said...

Too bad it's too late.

Anonymous said...

Yes this is legal and has been done in other parts of the City already.

Anonymous said...

there cannot be more than 1 chain store or bank per block --YES

no more than 25 percent of any given block’s street frontage can be occupied by eating/drinking establishments --DUMB

Anonymous said...

Instead of a special business district, let's make it an ALCOHOL FREE ZONE!
Then you might actually attract some families during the day to increase foot traffic into the myriad of wonderful small shops selling a wide variety of merchandise that cannot be found anywhere else in the city. Put out a map, program, mobile app for the business owners to list themselves so that the visitors to our neighborhood will find the shops easily. We have everything you could want, from gourmet ice-cream to wedding dress designers.

IT is the rowdy evening bars that give our neighborhood the poor reputation it does not truly deserve.

Anonymous said...

East Village? How about the Lower East Side?

Anonymous said...

"High real estate taxes are mentioned, but there is no mention about heavy government regulations. Get rid of both of them. "

Look what diminished government regulations have done to our country, wages have fallen, the middle class has shrunk, 3% of the population own 50% of the wealth. With Trump in the WH you may get your wish, no healthcare unless you are rich enough to afford it, no living in Manhattan unless you earn 100k per year and your taxes going into off shore shell companies.

Anonymous said...

Seems very arbitrary

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 10.07--this is a decade too late. Also, I don't like turning over the future of the community I have lived in for 40 years to an Economic Development program. Where they exist, they usually are not responsive to pressure from the community. They tend to act for the interests of businesses.

KT said...

Yawn. This won't stop a single closing or save a Nyers job. Would special zoning help the Associated (denied a lease renewal), Love Saves the Day etc. (exorbitant rent hike). Nope. Zoning would only apply to NEW LEASES and won't do squat to keep our current good biz in place. Sad CB 3 is pushing the Bloomie/Quinn agenda to distract from the real solution (SBJSA) from getting hearing & vote.

Five Letter Word said...

There are lots of things that the city can do to preserve the neighborhoods. I'd like to see South Village/West SoHo introduce some of these as well.

Off the top of my head:

1) Tax breaks for landlords who accommodate small businesses

2) Rent control/stabilization

3) Zoning that preserves neighborhood character

The situation I see is untenable. There are shops and restaurants closing up at an alarming rate because the landlords seem to think another business will move in that can afford 10x the rent of current lease.

Look around, there are more empty shops than businesses. This is affecting our quality of life as well as business owners' survival. A small thriving business that suddenly has a staggering rent increase has no choice but to go under.

How long will we continue to allow this to happen without doing something about it?

Anonymous said...

KT is right, though limiting chains and ATMs is a good idea in principal. The unaddressable problem is also the fading of any need for culture or style at retail level. Whatever cool "mom and pop" boutique you can imagine saving would also need a level of patronage that won't be provided given the current flavorless mindset of the cell phone generations.

Maybe more luxury kids toys for the stroller riders of the wealthy and the occasional sweatshop based nail salon, but cool edgy curio shops / clothing stores (because that's what this working definition of "mom and pops" is, right?) don't have the cash flow for 21st century Manhattan. As long as the vast majority of the suburbanites that now ear-bud their way to and from day jobs are content with no more than Duane Reeds, Netflix and coordinating bar crawls on the weekends that is what's going to pay the rent.

If you're young (at heart at least) and craving culture go towards the edges, where it's rougher and cheaper. Detroit will continue to accrue outraged blog posts about gentrification for the foreseeable future.

cmarrtyy said...

In today's e-commerce world most businesses are noncompetitive except prepared and served food and drink. And e-commerce is expanding. So how is a small Mom 'n Pop operation going to survive? This is fantasy legislation not an answer.

Anonymous said...

It's never too late to stop landlords from keeping empty storefronts empty waiting for a national chain to pay any price for a footprint here. This is not about keeping poorly run businesses around forever but keeping established independent businesses in our neighborhood. I know retail for the most part is dying but there are still services and products which are NOT available on Amazon. Restaurants should not be allowed to stay open past midnight on residential blocks, there should be no bars on residential blocks and a limit of one per avenue block. We must keep whole sections of our avenues from turning into "strips" resembling spring break 360 per year. Quality of life will improve in the neighborhood from less drunks spilling out of bars from 2-4 am on weekends.

Anonymous said...

"What are the goals of a special district in CB 3?"

Lies. All lies, people.

Anonymous said...

People on EV Grieve need to get over their aversion to "National" chains. What about chains like Dos Toros--is that excluded from the rant because it has only a few outlets in NY? So let's rid the neighborhood of K-Mart, McDonald's, and Ipuddo (they have a shop in Paris). Nothing is going to turn the clock back and make rents lower and the tax burden on small businesses decrease. Let's ask our soon to be ex-council woman Rosie and her predecessor what they did to introduce city council legislation that would have set up an independent commission to examine the books of landlords who raise the rents on small businesses beyond 1 or 2 or 3%. The answer to these problems is usually to hold the fire to the feet of public officials. Vote them out of office. We in the EV are such a complacent lot. Those of who instinctively pull the lever down for the name Democratic candidate. Then they want to know why things remain the same.

Anonymous said...

For the hyper critical and the naysayers - come to the meeting and express your concerns, but to just be critical of something that is an attempt to create a diversity of retail, because you think it won't work is counter-productive. So a few responses:

-CB 3 does support the small business survival act and passed a resolution in support, but should we just stand by idly and do nothing while that sits waiting for the Speaker to give it a hearing?
-This has nothing to do with the EDC, this is a Community Board 3 Meeting facilitated by the subcommittee referred to as the Economic Development Committee.

-The idea of limiting chains but not nightlife makes no sense as it is these two types of businesses that landlords desperately try and attract, nightlife establishments open and close everyday. Each time being replaced by another nightlife establishment.

If we want real retail diversity we need to start somewhere so is there any real harm in giving this a shot??

Al Cabal said...

A second civil war is at hand. The chickens are all coming home to roost. It's grim.

Anonymous said...

@6:41 PM > For the hyper critical and the naysayers - come to the meeting and express your concerns

You must be new around here. Keyboard warriors can't be bothered to actually show up. Or, to paraphrase Robert Towne: "forget it Jake, it's the web."

I am curious what you're attempting to preserve. You (we) can't mandate foot traffic patronize establishments and real estate, as of right now, has the right to keep property off the rental market until they get their asking price, or forever whichever comes first. I've got a great idea for a shop if I could get a store front for $1500/ month and party like it's 1989. As do we all.

Anonymous said...

You can talk on this forum, but it will be more effective if you all show up at the meeting and share your suggestions. It is an opportunity to find out what's happening and have a say in shaping the plan. Put it on your calendar and go!

Anonymous said...

This kind of thing has been done all over the city for decades. In midtown there are limits on numbers of bank branches.

But talk about shutting barn door after horse is gone! We could all rattle off the small restaurants, diners, coffee spots, bookstores, family owned delis...

Brian said...

This effort seems unnecessary. Bank branches have been closing; cafe bene, subway, Kmart and 7/11 are struggling. Chains haven't done well here. The market is already voting these businesses out.

Unknown said...

Technology, that's what got us all into this mess - global warming and oil depletion looming as a result of squandering the earth's resources to feed our addiction to technology. So who needs it anyway?Thesis writing

Anonymous said...

Most of the stuff proposed here will do the opposite of what they want. The real reason there are no more mom and pop stores are precisely because of things like rent control and the proposed legislation of limiting chain stores et all will only casue the few remaining mom and pop landlords to sell to the big boys which will mean even less mom and pop stores and more commercial vacancies. First and foremost the biggest reason mom and pop landlords have sold their buildings is becasue of rent control. If you own a walkup with 4-8 apartments and most of them are rent controlled or stabilized how on Earth do you expect those mom and pop owners to survive? Up until now that has been at expense of the mom and pop stores by making up the difference using their commercial space. If you take that out of the equation then they are forced to sell to the Icon realties who will wait out this phase by keeping the commercial space shuttered until regs change. The second biggest culprit is the cty taxing the rent of commercial tenants. Commercial spaces pay half a month's rent tax per year to the city - that is a tax on an expenditure which is theft. Keep in mind utilities like heat and water and sewer go up every year like clock work as well. All these new regs targeted at supposed evil landlords are what is pushing out the mom and pops and giving even more to the evil big corps. And most of the people here complaining probably buy most of their stuff online and then complain that mom and pops are disappearing. Look at yourself first before blaming others.

b377y said...

this is really important! everyone should go!