Friday, November 21, 2014
Council proposes new mixed use zones
While the de Blasio administration focuses on affordable housing, the City Council on Wednesday proposed new zoning to spur the city's manufacturing and "creative" economies.
The 40-page report represents the council's attempt to reverse the six-decade decline in the city's manufacturing sector, which employs 76,000 workers, down from its height of 1 million in 1940. Industrial businesses, which pay wages nearly double those in the growing service industry, are under threat by the explosion of residential development and rely heavily on zoning to preserve their footprint in the city.
The report also comes amid tension between the council and Mayor Bill de Blasio over the future of the city's 21 industrial business zones. Mr. de Blasio is looking for ways to add apartments to the IBZs, which former Mayor Michael Bloomberg shielded from residential rezoning but largely ignored during his final years in office. Critics sense a similar lack of enthusiasm from Mr. de Blasio, whose first budget slashed funding for the IBZ program and whose aides talk of putting "workforce housing" in industrial areas to advance the administration's goal of creating 80,000 affordable units.
With that in mind, the council wants to create three new kinds of zoning districts to help grow manufacturing and industrial businesses: an "industrial employment district," a "creative economy district" and a "real mixed-use district."