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City of Yes Phase 2: Adopted Zoning Changes Overview

New York City is one step closer to a “Yes.” On June 6, 2024, the NYC Council approved the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity, which is the second initiative in Mayor Eric Adams’ City of Yes plan to overhaul the city’s zoning regulations.

This month, Milrose Consultants continues its coverage of the City of Yes zoning changes. Read on as we sum up what you need to know and how these key policy changes will impact businesses, the life sciences sector, and even entertainment venues.

Modernizing Commercial Zoning Regulations

It has been 63 years since NYC revamped its zoning use regulations. The recent approval of the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity is intended to modernize outdated zoning regulations for businesses by removing barriers and allowing them more flexibility to operate and expand throughout the region.

Here is a snapshot of some of the key policy changes:

  • Expansion of space for clean manufacturing. This significant change doubles the space for small producers—such as microbreweries, apparel makers and indoor agriculture—which will enable them to thrive in commercial areas across all five boroughs.

  • Allowing a wider range of businesses to operate out of homes and upper-floor spaces of mixed-use buildings.

  • Allowing life science research laboratories to expand closer to universities and hospitals.

  • Enabling the expansion of over 17,000 businesses in industrial areas.

  • Elimination of previous restrictions on dancing, comedy shows, and open mic nights in restaurants and venues.

  • Removal of time limits for non-conforming commercial uses by eliminating the two-year vacancy rule and allowing store fronts to be reactivated by office and certain local retail uses—regardless of a vacancy of more than two years.

Special permit requirement

The City Council removed one of the provisions of Adams’ proposals which would have given new corner stores the green light to open in residential areas. Despite this amendment and other modifications of the City of Yes for Economic Opportunity, Adams stated in a press release dated June 6, 2024:

“With today’s passage of City of Yes for Economic Opportunity, we have taken another historic step to bring our city’s zoning code into the 21st century and build a more inclusive and prosperous economy."

With Adams’ first initiative—City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality—already in the books and the third phase—City of Yes for Housing Opportunity—slated for a vote later this year, New York City could be on track for an exciting revitalization.

Major impacts you need to be aware of

On June 6, 2024, the City Council approved and amended the NYC Zoning Resolution (ZR). Here are the major impacts you need to know:

  • Reduction in Use Groups from 18 to 10.

  • Zoning Uses will be denoted with Roman numerals (Uses I – X).

  • Use Group VI split into Retail and Services Uses.

  • Offices and laboratories in the same Use Group (VII).

  • Home offices allowed of up to 49 percent of a unit (up from 25 percent).

  • Changes to loading requirements.

  • New citywide Streetscape requirements.
Proposed Use Categories:

  • Use Group I: Agriculture and Open Uses (ex. Outdoor Racquet Courts)

  • Use Group II: Residences (ex. Apartment Houses)

  • Use Group III: Community Facilities (ex. Schools)

  • Use Group IV: Public Service Facilities and Infrastructure (ex. Courthouses)

  • Use Group V: Transient Accommodation (ex. Hotels)

  • Use Group VI: Retail and Services (ex. Department Stores)

  • Use Group VII: Offices and Laboratories

  • Use Group VIII: Recreation, Entertainment, and Assembly (ex. Art Galleries)

  • Use Group IX: Storage (ex. Micro-distribution Facilities)

  • Use Group X: Production Uses (ex. Textile Mills)

Note: Many antiquated uses have been removed. For example, there is no more “Rabbit Killing Establishments” or “Cabarets.” Additionally, uses existing prior to adoption that are recategorized are not considered a change of use.

Key deadlines

According to a Service Notice released by the NYC Department of Buildings on June 20, 2024, beginning July 1, 2024, “applicants are required to enter the new Use Groups and subcategories (A), (B), or (C) where applicable in all NB and Alt-CO application materials and submitted documents…”

Applications NOT Approved as of July 1, 2024

All new filings or pending applications must use the new Roman numeral designations after July 1, 2024.

Applications Approved prior to July 1, 2024

  • Approved applications without Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) issuance may be submitted for TCO Issuance with the old designations.

  • TCO renewals and Final CO may be issued using old designations.

  • For a partial building Alt-CO, only the affected floors need to update the designations.

  • Post Approval Amendments filed after July 1, may continue using old zoning group designations.

Note: Applicants are strongly encouraged to update to the New Zoning Use Group prior to Final CO Issuance.

Milrose Tip: Based on occupancy schedule, complete the Post Approval Amendment (PAA) to update designation prior to TCO or Final CO request.

Is your company ‘in the know’ on New York City’s proposed City of Yes zoning changes? Milrose’s code experts are here to help bring your team up to speed with a one-on-one AIA accredited code presentation. Attendees are eligible to receive one AIA and HSW learning credit for their participation. Learn more about Milrose’s continuing education program and schedule your presentation today!