Notwithstanding the plethora of rezonings accomplished by the City Planning Commission (with the approval of the City Council) over the past decade—many of which erased industrial zoning—New York City continues to maintain multiple manufacturing districts throughout the five boroughs. Yet, except for certain niche industries and highly specialized manufacturing businesses, the decline of traditional industrial uses continues. Of course, key concentrations of industrial jobs do exist, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and portions of Industry City (also in Brooklyn), for example. But it seems quite clear that these are not in the “traditional smokestack” industries, where assembly lines of people engage in round-the-clock mass production. On the contrary, a range of manufacturing sectors has actually lost hundreds of jobs over the last few decades, of which garment businesses are among the most recognizable.
Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category
As a pedestrian, we want to see a lively street-scape at eye-level; we want buildings to have a “street life”, not a blank face. A recent goal of new zoning for commercial strips is to mandate retail use and “building transparency” at the ground floor — see new zoning requirements for Park Slope. (This follows long-standing rules prohibiting “pedestrian-unfriendly” uses – such as banks – along 5th Avenue in Midtown and Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side.)
Is it “proper” to use zoning on certain streets to achieve a design goal of avoiding a blank wall of dentist’s offices – or worse, interior parking – when such uses are otherwise allowed? Is this an aesthetic issue – avoiding a solid wall along the street (where a building essentially “turns its back” to the pedestrian)? Or, is it a question of enlivening the street with retail activity? (more…)
Strolling along Fifth or Madison or Park – or just about any key Avenue in Midtown - it is apparent that every financial institution in the world seeks to locate on as many strategic and visible corners as possible (from Habib American Bank to Wells Fargo; from HSBC – which is the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation – to Citibank). From financial behemoths to minor players in the money markets, these banks want you to see them and use their ATMs. They occupy major intersections and large areas on the ground floors of important buildings. They want your money and they want to be seen.
Is this is a good thing? Should the proliferation of banking operations be halted? Are these retail uses – like stores and restaurants? Do they serve the public – and are they key uses which should be encouraged? Or, are they unappealing dead spaces which disrupt vital commercial corridors which should instead be predominately characterized by pedestrian-oriented, visually appealing uses? Is Madison Avenue harmed because the Bank of China and the Bank of America are competing for your business? Or, are ATMs and bank services vital to New Yorkers and tourists alike? (more…)
ZONE is in the nation’s capital for the Fall Urban Land Institute Conference. Here’s an initial report: (more…)