Council Proposes Zoning Changes to Boost Manufacturing

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste)

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste) William

The City Council will look to change zoning regulations and create new business and industrial districts in an effort to boost the city’s manufacturing sector, according to a policy proposal released this morning.

“The proposals outlined in our report shed light on how we can harness the power of manufacturing to grow and diversify our city’s economic and community development—while balancing the need for livable neighborhoods,” Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “These jobs are gateways to greater opportunity for New York City’s working families, and I look forward to putting these recommendations to action.”

Industrial jobs currently employ about 10 percent of the city’s private sector workforce, according to the council, and the careers pay more than double the average salary of service sector jobs. While the U.S. has seen a decline in manufacturing careers, the city has poured money into projects like the Brooklyn Navy Yard, designed to create new, good paying jobs within the flagging sector.

For their part, the Council argued in the report it does not have the regulatory authority to fully take on the issue — and proposed three “innovative zoning frameworks and mechanisms” that could help them grow industrial businesses.

The first, “Industrial Employment Districts,” would seek to solve problems faced by industrial companies already within existing manufacturing districts, such as “Industrial Business Zones” — including competition for space with other types of businesses, overly burdensome parking regulations, and a lack of space or allowance for density so industrial businesses can expand. The district would reserve space solely for the industrial sector, requiring special permits for other businesses like restaurants, hotels, or storage facilities to move in.

A second proposal would create “Creative Economy Districts” — for less heavily industrial and more mixed-use space. The district would allow for industrial development with an “additional commercial density” in an effort to serve employers in the technology, media, arts and design sectors — but would again look to push out land uses such as mini-storage or nightlife, and to end the warehousing of property in hopes of future residential development.

Finally, the Council proposed a “Real Mixed Use Districts,” which would include all three types of land uses — industrial, commercial and residential. The district would require developers who want to build lucrative residential properties to also build commercial and industrial spaces alongside the residential development.

Councilman David Greenfield, Chair of the Committee on Land Use, said the city is already redefining industry within existing manufacturing zones.

“We need to nurture this economic growth by ensuring our creative and industrial sectors are able to grow and thrive while planning for the future. I thank our Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for prioritizing this issue and look forward to working with my colleagues to updating our zoning regulations to allow for responsible growth,” he said.

Council Proposes Zoning Changes to Boost Manufacturing