NYC Land Use Bulletin: Update on the City’s Land Use and Zoning Initiatives


NYC Land Use Bulletin: Update on the City's Land Use and Zoning Initiatives

Written by Richard Barth, Executive Vice President, Capalino

Over the last two months, the New York City Council has approved two zoning initiatives from Mayor de Blasio’s Administration– the Greater East Midtown Rezoning, and the Downtown Far Rockaway Rezoning.  A half dozen other City zoning proposals are in the works, including the East Harlem Initiative, Garment Center Zoning, Self-Storage Text Amendment, and more.

Capalino’s Land Use, Housing and Real Estate practice has been tracking these initiatives closely, as each will have significant effects on land use and development potential in their respective neighborhoods, and throughout the five boroughs. We’ve put together a brief update on each of the approved and proposed land use and zoning initiatives, and the current status with the City Planning Department and the City Council.

APPROVED ZONING INITIATIVES - East Midtown Rezoning proposal from Mayor de Blasio


Greater East Midtown

Greater East Midtown covers the city’s premier business district – generating approximately 10% of the city’s entire real estate taxes. This rezoning will encourage the development and modernization of office buildings coupled with investments in subway improvements and open space. The adopted district allows the as-or-right transfer of development rights from landmark buildings in the district to development sites where the highest densities are allowed near the transportation nodes like Grand Central Terminal.  A portion of the sales from the transfers are dedicated to investments in subway and other public improvements. As part of the rezoning, hotel development would require a special permit subject to ULURP.

Read a summary of the plan on the City Planning Department website here.

Downtown Far Rockaway

More recently, the Council adopted the city’s 22-block Far Rockaway rezoning which is expected to result in more than 3,000 mixed-income housing units and new commercial and community facility space.

The interagency plan is expected to bring in $288 million of investments to the area, both private and federal funding, which will create “new commercial space and small business support, affordable housing options, open space, new connectivity to transit, improved infrastructure, and community facilities to the area,” according to NYCEDC.

See the highlights of the plan here.


East Harlem Zoning

The rezoning is part of a comprehensive plan for East Harlem in Community Board 11 to encourage new and affordable housing, preserve neighborhood character, and balance new development with existing neighborhood context. The rezoning proposal is based on a community-sponsored plan led by stakeholders and Speaker Mark-Viverito.  The rezoning would permit density increases along north-south corridors, as well as East 116th Street.  The rezoning is projected to result in an increase of 3,500 new housing units, of which a major portion would be affordable through the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program.  In response to Community Board and Borough President review, the Department filed an alternative zoning text which limits the height increases  along portions of the avenues.  As-of-right hotels would also be restricted.

For more information visit

Status as of 9/25/17:   The City Planning Commission held its public hearing on August 23 and must vote by October 3. The City Council would have 50 days for its review putting the deadline toward the end of November.

Self-Storage Text Amendment

City Planning is seeking to prohibit as-of-right self-storage facilities in Industrial Business Zones (IBZs), which are designated in parts of manufacturing districts in all boroughs except Manhattan. The underlying rationale for the proposal is to help ensure that manufacturing land in IBZs is preserved for more job-intensive industrial uses. Under the original zoning text, any new self-storage facility in these areas would only be allowed by special permit, which would be subject to the full ULURP process.  In response to comments during the public review, the Department of City Planning filed an amended text (the A-text) to allow as-of-right self storage facilities in these areas if they also include at least 20,000 square feet of industrial space on the ground floor.

For more information visit the City Planning website here.

Status as of 9/18/17: The CPC Public Hearing was held on August 23.  It is considering a wide range of public testimony and expected to vote on the amendments in October .  The City Council would then have 50 days to act. 

Self-Storage Text Amendment zoning proposal update in new york city

Jerome Avenue Rezoning

Extending along a two-mile stretch of Jerome Avenue in the Bronx primarily through Community Boards 5 and 6, this 92-block rezoning includes parts of Highbridge, Concourse, Mt. Eden, Mt. Hope, University Heights and Fordham.  The zoning proposal was developed through an extensive community outreach process led by Bronx City Planning that called for zoning changes as well as investments in housing, economic activity, and neighborhood improvements.   The land use component of the comprehensive neighborhood plan would replace outdated zoning with commercial and residential zoning (with MIH) to allow residential and mixed-use development.  The rezoning is expected to promote the development of over 3,000 affordable units through MIH and city investments.  The formal public review process began on August 21.

Status as of 9/25/17:  The Community Board review is to be completed by mid-October, followed by a 30-day Borough President review.  The City Planning Commission public hearing and review would occur in December /January.

Inwood Plan and Rezoning

Through extensive outreach and consultation, EDC – in coordination with other agencies – has developed the Inwood Action Plan, designed to address long-standing housing, economic, and neighborhood needs in the Inwood community.  The zoning proposal would meet the long-term community vision by extending the mixed-use character of Inwood east of 10th Avenue to the waterfront.  It would replace zoning that was put in place over 60 years with zoning designed to revitalize the Sherman Creek waterfront area through new mixed-use housing, mandatory affordable housing, public waterfront open space, and new opportunities for jobs and investments.  West of 10th Avenue, the ability to develop towers would be replaced by contextual zoning establishing strict height limits.

Status as of 9/18/17:  On September 14, the City held a public meeting on the environmental scope for the project, with the expectation that the formal public review process could start later in the year.

Garment Center Zoning

The Administration has proposed to modify the Special Garment
District regulations in Manhattan. Adopted in the late 1980’s to preserve the concentration of garment and fashion related jobs in the Garment District area, these regulations require preservation of space for garment manufacturers in exchange for conversion on the mid-blocks to office and other commercial uses. As originally proposed this past Spring, the City’s proposal would eliminate the apparel production space preservation requirement, and limit new hotels by imposing a special permit requiring full ULURP review. In conjunction with the zoning changes, the City would incentivize apparel manufacturers to relocate to other parts of the city, including Bush Terminal and Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Status as of 9/25/17: While August had originally been targeted for certification, details of the proposal are being reconsidered in advance of formal public review.

Bay Street Corridor Rezoning

City Planning in consultation with stakeholders and other agencies, has been developing a neighborhood plan that includes a rezoning of the Bay Street Corridor extending along the North Shore of Staten Island from St. George to Stapleton.  The rezoning would replace underutilized manufacturing and other zones with new contextual zoning districts that allow residential development with MIH. Proposals under discussion could add up to 2500 new housing units and over half a million square feet of commercial space.  Twenty-five to 30 percent of any new units would be required to be affordable, depending on the household incomes. The higher 30 percent number provides for more workforce housing.

Status as of 9/25/17:  The EIS scope of work was first issued in May 2016.  A certification date has not been set.

M1 Hotel Special Permit Text Amendment

City Planning is advancing a citywide zoning text amendment that would have far-reaching implications by prohibiting as-of-right hotels in all M1 Districts and allowing them only by City Planning Commission special permit. The restrictions would not apply in MX districts.  Transient hotels operated for a public purpose, such as temporary housing assistance or shelters for the homeless, would be exempt from the proposed special permit requirements.

For more information visit: 

Status as of 9/25/17:  The EIS scope of work was issued on September 25th and a public scoping meeting has been scheduled for October 26. Certification is planned for later in 2018

Other Zoning Plans

Additional neighborhood and zoning initiatives are underway in Gowanus, Bushwick, and North Brooklyn (the Industry and Innovation Plan),  Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, and the Long Island City Core Study in Queens. We will keep you posted as more details emerge.

Richard Barth

The Capalino Housing, Land Use and Real Estate team is closely tracking all of these zoning plans, and we can assist you in determining implications and opportunities for your sites, and the best ways to meet the new mandatory affordable housing requirements.

Contact Richard Barth, Executive Vice President, at 212-616-5845 or

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