New York City Mayor Eric Adams laid out his plans for revitalizing small businesses in the post-pandemic era on Wednesday at a power breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York. Repeating the phrase, “We are going to change that no to a yes,” Adams said the city would work to reduce restrictive zoning rules, administrative hurdles and transit deserts, all while expanding the housing stock.
Adams also vowed continued focus on public safety and crime reduction – what he said will help the city compete with states like Florida and Texas by encouraging workers to return to the offices and incentivizing corporations to keep their headquarters in New York City.
“We have a good product. We have not sold our product . . . we have become a domestic-thinking city with an international capacity,” Adams said. “We must do what I’ve stated over and over again – to get people back into the office, we must make sure our city is safe.”
Here are five takeaways from the mayor’s address:
Expanding housing stock
Adams vowed that his long-awaited “housing blueprint” would be released “soon.” He said it would include updated zoning plans to allow a broader range of housing options, including in vacant office spaces and small buildings that can not currently be altered to accommodate housing under current rules.
The mayor called growth in housing demand outpacing supply one of the biggest “factors that contribute to our housing crisis.”
“The result has been skyrocketing prices that make it harder for me to afford to live in our city,” he said. “We want New Yorkers to stay here, put down roots and raise families. We want to continue welcoming immigrants and young people seeking opportunity. So we must have places for all kinds of New Yorkers and many different price points.”
Loosening zoning restrictions
Adams didn’t just focus on residential zoning, he also addressed rules for commercial and manufacturing use. The mayor gave an example of a bakery in a residential neighborhood that wants to expand its operations to make and sell products to other retailers, but can’t due to zoning restrictions that would require the business “to move their entire operation to a manufacturing district.” Adams said the city would work to change that dynamic.
“Saying yes will improve our streetscape, make doing business easier and boost our economic recovery,” he said.
Converting to renewable energy
Adams said his administration would make it easier for businesses to shift to renewable energy sources, including by “changing our zoning rules so that we are not hindering the deployment of solar panels, battery storage and other next-generation equipment.”
He said that the “new rules that promote sustainability will support more than 61,000 energy-efficiency jobs in our city,” such as “improving lighting, installation and ventilation as well as renewable heating and cooling.” Adams vowed to focus the job creation and training efforts in “communities that have been historically denied.”
The mayor also emphasized the need to increase the electric vehicle stock, along with charging stations.
Improving transit access
In what Adams said is an effort that “is all about neighborhood investment,” the city will prioritize new transit hubs near major employers in underserved communities.
He noted the four new Bronx Metro North Stations slated to open in 2027, including one in Morris Park, within a half a mile of Montefiore and Jacobi Medical Centers and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Reducing bureaucratic hurdles
“We need to speed up city review of private applicants for new investments in our neighborhoods,” Adams said. “We want to accelerate economic development by reducing administrative burdens.”
The city’s Building and Land Use Approval Streamlining Task Force will help lead this initiative by making the building and land use application process “more user-friendly and seamless,” Adams said, including by better-communicating with applicants, community boards and elected officials.
“We will not let a proposal to build new housing and create new jobs languish on a desktop or in an inbox,” Adams said. “The naysaying and dysfunction has already slowed down far too many transformative investments. Everything can not be a default no.”