City of Yes

Economic Opportunity

"OPEN" Lighted Sign
Source: Mayor’s Photography Office

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity would modernize our city’s zoning regulations to support small businesses, create thriving commercial corridors, and bolster New York City’s economic recovery.

Our local businesses are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. They need clear and sensible rules that give them the flexibility to change and grow – especially as our city recovers from COVID-19. City of Yes for Economic Opportunity would remove outdated limitations on businesses and ensure that local retail streets and commercial centers across the city can remain lively places that sustain our neighborhoods.

What would City of Economic Opportunity do?

View the info session presentation deck here.


City of Yes for Economic Opportunity would make it easier for businesses to find space or expand, for example, by:

  • Allowing more types of businesses on ground floors and in some cases upper floors
  • Allowing clean production "maker spaces" in more areas and would create new options for loft-style buildings

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity would remove barriers that businesses in growing industries face in our zoning rules today. For example, City of Yes would:

  • Modernize regulations for life sciences so innovative companies can grow
  • Simplify regulations for amusement spaces, which include for example arcades, laser tag, and swimming pools
  • Legalize dancing and live shows like comedy at venues where music is allowed
  • Clarify rules about where businesses are allowed to grow plants and vegetables
  • Create a pathway for businesses like film studios to build spaces that suit their needs

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity would support vibrant commercial streets – for example, by:

  • Remove deadlines to filling vacant storefronts
  • Establish consistent streetscape rules to ensure new buildings contribute to lively, active commercial areas.
  • Encourage neighborhood hubs for local deliveries

City of Yes would also allow more types of home-businesses and create pathways for corner stores in areas where they’re currently not allowed.

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity would rewrite zoning rules to ensure they are user-friendly consistent, and modern – for example, by:

  • Removing antiquated and confusing terms for how zoning defines business types and where they can go.

Why is this initiative needed?

To support commercial corridors and entrepreneurs throughout the city, and reduce retail vacancy, we need modern zoning regulations that help the city adapt in a dynamic and evolving economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of flexibility in our zoning regulations. Businesses small and large are reevaluating how they use space, where to locate, and how they function in the face of changing consumer preferences and economic conditions.

Entrepreneurs in New York City have always experimented to develop new business models that make our city more vibrant and dynamic. Yet zoning rules that describe where different types of businesses are allowed have barely changed since 1961.

These often confusing and outdated regulations make it harder for mom-and-pop stores and other entrepreneurs to open, grow, and adapt in New York City.

City of Economic Opportunity would support businesses and job growth by ensuring a wider range of businesses can use existing commercial space. The proposal would make sure that our zoning is flexible enough for empty storefronts to be activated by businesses that serve our neighborhoods.

This initiative is part of Mayor Adams’ Rebuild, Renew, and Reinvent: A Blueprint for New York City’s Economic recovery. The proposal draws on years of NYC Planning research including the 2021 Zoning for a Resilient Economy report.

City of Yes for Economic Opportunity Supporters

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