LESPI's Letter re East Village Special Zoning District

November 6, 2018

Alysha Lewis-Coleman, Board Chair
Community Board 3, Manhattan
59 East 4th Street
New York, NY  10003

Dear Ms. Lewis-Coleman:

I am writing to express the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative’s support for a new East Village Special Zoning District to help local “mom and pop” retail stores stay in business.

Small independent businesses have traditionally comprised the very heart of our Lower East Side neighborhoods. With ever increasing rents, and the demolition of the city’s older, smaller buildings for replacement by much larger structures with larger retail space, “mom and pops” are increasingly being displaced by corporate chains and franchises.

This trend, by reducing retail diversity, negatively impacts both the economics and character of our city, diminishes the relationships between a neighborhood’s residents and its business owners and employees, and undoubtedly affects democratic governing, as national corporations are likely to be less rooted in community affairs. Conversely, a healthy mix of “mom and pops” encourages retail diversity, longstanding relationships between residents and neighborhood businesses, and commercial enterprises with deep roots in the community.

For these reasons we believe that the City needs to nurture and protect small independent businesses. The best way to do this is to allow them to survive and grow without the unfair competition inflicted by chains and franchises. A new Special Zoning District would be a very effective means of protecting these businesses and the many benefits they bring to the East Village / Lower East Side.

As a preservation organization, LESPI maintains that “mom and pops” typically fit well within the smaller commercial spaces available in historic buildings, such as those found in the Lower East Side. The human scale of historic buildings and small retail provide an excellent urban environment for those who live, work and visit historic neighborhoods.

We respectfully ask that Community Board No. 3, at the earliest opportunity, supports the creation of a Special Zoning District to protect “mom and pop” businesses. Thank you.


Richard D. Moses

cc: The Hon. Carlina Rivera, NY City Council
Meghan Joye, Community Board 3 Economic Development Committee
Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3


The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving the historic streetscapes of the Lower East Side, including the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston Street, Bowery, Chinatown and Little Italy