On Tuesday, Democratic mayoral nominee Bill De Blasio answered questions on Reddit, a website that allows users to chat with each other and with guests. One question he answered was from Jeremiah Moss, who runs the excellent blog Vanishing New York. It dealt with the loss of small businesses in the city. In his answer, De Blasio said he liked the rezoning last year that limited the size of storefronts on the Upper West Side and sees it as a model for the rest of the city:
The rezoning he’s referring to limited the size of storefronts on Broadway, Columbus Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue above 72nd Street, and limited banks in particular to 25-foot storefronts. The idea was to stop landlords from kicking out small retailers (“mom-and-pop shops”) and combining their spaces so they could rent them to larger big-box retailers.
It’s not clear if the rezoning is working, and it would be difficult to prove it one way or the other in the short term. Small businesses like Big Nick’s continue to close, but that doesn’t mean the proposal hasn’t had any effect (also, Broadway has no overall size restriction for storefronts, meaning stores on that avenue are more vulnerable to being pushed out in favor of larger tenants). It may be years before we have a better sense of the full impact. In the meantime, the proposal has generated some criticism. City Council candidate Mark Landis wrote in his questionnaire for us that “Upper West Side rezoning did not address the fundamental issue of protecting small businesses from high rents and real estate taxes.”
The proposal sparked concerns from some people in the real estate community, who said it would limit their ability to use their properties. Bloomberg supported the UWS rezoning, but the city was clear at the time it passed that this proposal would only be used on the UWS. If de Blasio becomes mayor, the Upper West Side rezoning could become a blueprint for numerous other parts of the city.
Read the whole Reddit “Ask Me Anything” here.