Don’t Ever Change: A Few Manhattan Zoning Recommendations to Still the Hands of Time

Watering holes say so much about a neighborhood.

What does your neighborhood watering hole say about you? (Caroline on Crack flick)

In an effort to stave off its inevitable transformation into a wasteland of vast sports bars and  mega clubs, the East Village is considering zoning restrictions that would limit the number of clubs and large bars. Such restrictions aim to preserve the intimate, sticky-floored watering holes for which the East Village is known, essentially creating a protected nightlife district of dives. Certainly, it’s not the only Manhattan neighborhood that might make good use of a carefully-targeted zoning change to safeguard its unique identity? The Observer has a few recommendations.

Greenwich Village: a proposal to landmark all as yet unlandmarked sections of the Village and to restrict the size of all future developments proposed by NYU, or any entity under the auspices of NYU, to less than 20-feet wide and less than 35-feet high.

Yorkville: To encourage development friendly to the area’s vibrant local community, tax incentives will be given to medical supply stores, pharmacies, Zabars and sports bars catering to clientele under the age of 24.

Upper West Side: In order to promote local businesses and discourage chain stores and banks from taking root, the ground-floor width of all new stores will be limited to 40-feet on Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. Furthermore, banks will be limited to 25 feet wide on all of the Upper West Side. Wait… that one’s actually real.

Midtown West: Dining and theater establishments will not be permitted to expand the size of their lobbies or indoor waiting areas, so as to maintain the neighborhood tradition of long, sidewalk-obstructing lines.

Soho (Non Cast Iron District): The lofts of working artists will be landmarked, along with the artists themselves.

Times Square: Approval is limited to projects that involve razing the current structures and leaving rubble-strewn lots in their place.

Sutton and Beekman Places: Who suggested changing the zoning regulations? What co-op do they live in? I knew that things were not what they used to be in that building, but I didn’t realize the board had let their standards fall quite this low.

TriBeCa: Residences with ceilings under 12 feet and apartment partitions will no longer be permitted, in order to preserve the unique open-space, loft feel of the area.

The Meatpacking District: Never mind.

Little Italy: To safeguard the unique dining atmosphere of this district, restaurants with less than 50 tables and cuisine that may receive favorable Zagat reviews will not be permitted. Additionally, all restaurants will be required to either hang Italian flags outside, or to use signage in the colors of the Italian flag.

Columbus Circle: New development will be restricted to projects that are non-contextual and significantly taller than all the other surrounding structures.

FiDi: With the exception of one Starbucks location, stores and restaurants are not permitted to operate on nights and weekends. Additionally, streets and sidewalks will be closed to all traffic to maintain the subtle allure of a neighborhood that is dead outside of normal business hours (M-F, 6AM-5PM).

Chelsea: All routes leading from the subway to the High Line will be cordoned off from the rest of the neighborhood with police barricades.

Lower East Side: Upscale restaurants and “fine dining” establishments will only be permitted if the portion viewable from the street replicates the look and feel of a cheap take-out joint and/or industrial workspace.

kvelsey@observer.com

Comments

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