Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
In order to try and prevent one more massive Bank of America from opening on the Upper West Side, a draft for new zoning rules has been put together that could potentially hault any more big-box stores from setting up shop. Proposed by Councilwoman Gale Brewer, the new rules would limit the amount of sidewalk frontage on Columbus and Amsterdam Streets.
Why? Because as West Side Rag puts it, the UWS is starting to look a lot like the 'burbs: "When you get your crafts at Michaels Stores, stock your fridge at Whole Foods, and walk by a Bank of America every three blocks, what's the point of living in New York? You could just as well move to Connecticut and get the same stuff, and a lawn too." But there's a good reason why the new rules might not change that much if they're approved.
If they rules were approved, the neighborhood would look like this: For every 50 feet of sidewalk frontage there would need to be at least two establishments; no one establishment can have more than 40 feet; and a bank can't take up more than 25 feet. In addition, stores must be 30 feet deep, with exceptions made for schools, supermarkets, and houses of worship.
Real estate know-it-alls say that the idea isn't exactly foolproof. Size limitations could simply mean smaller versions of big-box stores (like Duane Reade Expresses), or it could be an invitation for "fast food restaurants and other basically depressing businesses to open up" like they did on the Upper East Side.
· City Drafts New Rules to Stop Invasion of UWS Big-Box Stores [West Side Rag]
· The Upper West Side Mall [Racked NY]
· Duane Reade's Neon Sign Throws in the Towel [Racked NY]