New York City Unveils its Open Storefronts Program

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

The New York City Open Storefronts Program will allow existing ground-floor storefront businesses to conduct business activity on sidewalks and on roadways that are part of the Open Streets: Restaurants program. The temporary Open Storefronts Program will commence on Oct. 30 and will last through Dec. 31. The Open Streets: Restaurants program, which allows for the expansion of seating options for restaurants in selected restaurant corridors citywide by closing streets to traffic to create outdoor dining space, was recently made a permanent program. 

While the Zoning Resolution ordinarily requires that commercial uses in most zoning districts be located within completely enclosed buildings (with one exception being Use Group 6A eating or drinking establishments), Emergency Executive Order No. 157 suspends the relevant sections of the Zoning Resolution to allow a business participating in the Open Storefronts Program to operate an outdoor commercial premises in accordance with the executive order and DOT Guidelines. The executive order can be found here.

Business activity in the Open Storefronts Program on sidewalks will be limited to the width of the business frontage and a depth of 5 feet from the external facing wall of the building. A minimum 8-foot-wide clear path must be maintained on the sidewalk. Business activity on open streets must provide a 15-foot-wide emergency lane. Objects placed on the sidewalk or open street cannot exceed 5 feet in height above the level of the sidewalk, and all objects and materials must be brought indoors when the business is closed. Collapsible tents and umbrellas are allowed. 

 Additional siting criteria can be found here.

Businesses can apply online and self-certify that they meet the eligibility requirements. The application can be found here. 

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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