New York City Council eyes creating zoning districts to boost manufacturing, tech

New York City lawmakers are envisioning new zoning districts to encourage growth of manufacturing, technology and design companies, according to a report released Wednesday.

It calls for adjusting zoning rules to help make sure there's space for such companies to start, stay and grow in the city. While there are some industrial and manufacturing zones now, the report says much of the land in them is taken up by airports, power plants and other uses.

The report notes that industrial companies often offer good salaries, but the companies are being squeezed by development.

The number of manufacturing jobs citywide fell from 174,000 in 2000 to 75,000 in 2010, though they have since ticked up to 77,000. There are about 340,000 jobs citywide in the wider industrial sector, including transportation, warehousing, utilities and the wholesale trade.

"These jobs are gateways to greater opportunity for New York City's working families," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said in a statement. She said she's looking forward to enacting the report's recommendations.

The suggestions include creating "industrial employment" districts, which would offer more flexibility to expand existing industrial buildings and would require special permits for big commercial, nonindustrial enterprises such as hotels or self-storage spaces. The report also calls for rewriting rules for existing "industrial business zones."

Meanwhile, "creative economy" districts would blend industry with commercial space for tech, media and design firms. And new mixed-use districts would add some residential space to the industrial-commercial combination to emulate the dynamic that drew people to such neighborhoods as SoHo and Williamsburg.