New York City, October 30 – Today, the Department of City Planning kicked off the public review process for Mayor Adams’ City of Yes for Economic Opportunity citywide text amendment. The M-Zone Coalition, a dedicated group of Council Members and Borough President’s working with advocates, businesses and community leaders, is excited to announce a significant milestone in its ongoing efforts to promote economic opportunity and industrial growth. As a result of the collaboration and advocacy by the M-Zone Coalition, the Department of City Planning, incorporated crucial text amendments that create several new manufacturing districts (“M” districts) into its Zoning for Economic Opportunity (ZEO) proposal released today. 

When first announced earlier this year, ZEO focused entirely on the city’s commercial districts. The proposal now also includes the creation of new “M” districts, which are instrumental in safeguarding and fostering the core industrial sectors. This development marks the first time in over six decades that the Department of City Planning has undertaken such comprehensive zoning changes for manufacturing zones. The proposed new “M” districts would create a new framework for land use in industrial areas, with a “Core Industrial District” that prioritizes preservation of essential industrial businesses, a “Transition District” to support an active and sustained mix of industrial and commercial uses, and a more flexible “Growth District” to encourage development of new loft-style buildings in areas closest to transit and residential communities. These new districts would replace the existing 1961-era “M” districts over time through future rezonings, alongside comprehensive planning for industrial areas that will be required by the City Council’s forthcoming “Industrial Development Action Plan” legislation (Int 1012).

While the proposed text amendments to create these new M districts represent a positive starting point, they require meaningful further refinement to fully protect and incentivize industrial activities within the city. Specifically, the Core Industrial District and the Transition District must be strengthened to more effectively prioritize industrial businesses. The M-Zone Coalition will continue to actively work with the Department of City Planning to ensure that the new M districts align with the shared vision of supporting and preserving industrial vitality.

The M-Zone Coalition recognizes the significance of New York’s industrial sector, which forms the bedrock of the city’s daily functioning. Industries such as food distribution, construction materials, energy production, waste management, and manufacturing are essential components of the city’s infrastructure, supporting the city’s businesses and economy, driving economic growth, and providing over 500,000 sustainable living-wage employment opportunities for the local workforce, particularly individuals from diverse backgrounds.

“Expanding access to equitable economic opportunities is critical to safe and healthy communities, and for our city’s long-term recovery,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “In my State of the City address, which focused on building more pathways to economic mobility, I outlined important steps our city can take to cultivate a renewed industrial sector that promotes these outcomes by providing good-paying jobs for all New Yorkers. I’m encouraged that the initial City of Yes for Economic Opportunity proposal includes some zoning changes that can support industrial businesses and manufacturing. The Council will continue its work with all stakeholders to advance necessary zoning and economic development policies that help achieve our shared goal of strengthening the sector’s role in supporting our economy and clean energy goals.”

The ZEO citywide text amendment proposal is a crucial opportunity to create new land use tools that address the challenges posed by the changing industrial landscape, foster green energy initiatives, and support a thriving, equitable city. The M-Zone Coalition is committed to ensure that the industrial sector benefits from the ambitious reforms included within the administration’s “City of Yes” vision. A collaborative approach will be essential in achieving the most robust version of this initiative.