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Special District - East Village Community Coalition

The EVCC works to support independent small businesses in our neighborhood to help maintain the diverse, unique community that has long thrived here and is essential for our future. Through community input and our Formula Retail Working Group, we analyzed the current state of formula retail within the East Village. The EVCC’s 2015 Preserving Local, Independent Retail report includes a set of proposals for limiting chain stores in the neighborhood through zoning reforms.

According to the Center for Urban Future, 2017 marked the ninth consecutive year there was a net increase in national chain stores throughout the five boroughs. To defend communities against this homogenizing trend, San Francisco and NYC’s own Upper West Side have turned to formula retail regulation.

In 2008, three corridors on NYC’s Upper West Side were rezoned as “Special Districts” in an attempt to offset a trend toward store frontages being overtaken by banks and apartment lobbies. The zoning now limits the storefront sizes and certain store conversions or changes in use. The City Council’s December 2017 report, Planning for Retail Diversity, states “restrictions on storefront sizes have been effective in stabilizing the number of storefronts on Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues and preventing the displacement of existing businesses for storefront mergers”.

San Francisco is the largest urban area in the US to have strict formula retail business restrictions. San Francisco’s zoning only allows formula retail in certain neighborhoods; requires neighborhood notifications before any chain retail is permitted; and can limit the size and type of formula retail allowed in a given area. The San Francisco Department of Planning’s website details the restrictions and provides residents with a link where they can find out exact zoning for specific sites.

The EVCC continues to press for any and all measures to support local independent business, and is working with CB 3 on a proposed Special District for the East Village.

Latest News on Our Efforts

[catlist name=formula-retail-restrictions class=lcp-ilst excerpt=yes title_class=lcp-title posts_morelink=”Read More”]