NYC Council Nixes Corner Stores and Scales Back Adams’s Rezoning Proposal

City Council panel rolls back parts of mayor’s plan to reshape NYC’s commercial districts


The New York City Council said to Eric Adams: How about the “city of maybe”?

A City Council committee voted to roll back parts of Mayor Adams’s “City of Yes for Economic Opportunityproposal to reshape the city’s commercial districts, including killing the plan to universally allow corner stores in residential neighborhoods.

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In final negotiations this week, members of the council’s Land Use Committee took issue with some of the most dramatic changes Adams and Department of City Planning Commissioner Dan Garodnick had hoped to pass to spur economic recovery and usher New York City into a new post-pandemic era

The committee voted to impose size and location limits on businesses that councilmembers fear would impact the quality of life in their districts and to add safeguards to life sciences businesses operating on the upper floors of buildings, according to the proposed text amendment. In total, the committee modified 14 out of 18 policy changes in Adams’s proposal.

The committee also tweaked the zoning proposal’s attempts to expand the types of business New Yorkers can operate in their homes, such as hair salons and interior decorator’s offices. It added a 1,000-square-foot cap for home offices, reduced the number of employees to just one, and kept the ban on animal-related companies, according to the text amendment.

Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, who chairs the Land Use Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that the changes will “ensure the ‘Zoning for Economic Opportunity’ text amendment works in favor of all New Yorkers.” 

Salamanca added that the council was also able to win the creation of a special permit required for distribution and micro-distribution centers to set up shop outside of Manhattan. He claimed existing centers “have swarmed our neighborhoods.” 

“During this process, we negotiated a commitment for a special permit to address the issue of last-mile facilities that have swarmed our neighborhoods, and protections for local communities against micro-distribution sites in residential areas,” Salamanca said. 

The distribution centers — many of them opened by Amazon during its industrial frenzy early in the COVID-19 pandemic — raised environmental concerns that Salamanca said “plagued our city for far too long.”

Despite the majority of the proposals being modified, Adams issued a statement praising the vote and said it was an “important step” to “rebuild the economy and make this city more livable for working-class New Yorkers.”

“This historic initiative will remove outdated limitations on businesses and ensure that local retail streets and commercial centers across the city remain lively places that sustain our neighborhoods,” Adams said. “We urge the full City Council to adopt these regulations in the coming weeks.”

The text amendment, which is the first of three “City of Yes” zoning initiatives Adams is hoping to get passed, will now return to the City Planning Commission for approval before it faces a full City Council vote, likely in June.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at