Planning Commission launches review to bring green grocery stores to underserved areas of Queens –


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The Planning Commission (CPC) has launched the launch of a public review for an update and expansion of the Expansion of food distribution to support health (FRESH) program to bring convenient and accessible grocery stores to underserved New York City neighborhoods – a vital step towards reducing health inequalities that have been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

In partnership with City Council, CPC will extend the FRESH zoning incentive to 11 other low-income community districts across the city, including Queens. The program currently applies to Queens Community District 12 in South East Queens; and will expand to Community Districts 1, 3 and 4 in West Queens and Community District 14 in Far Rockaway.

According to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, food insecurity was a serious threat even before the pandemic, and far too many Queens families live in food deserts without adequate access to fresh produce, fruits, vegetables and more. healthy foods they need.

“My office will continue to work closely with the Department of Planning to ensure the expansion of the FRESH program into the historically underserved communities of Northwest Queens and Far Rockaway will, in fact, lead to the construction of new supermarkets, which are in dire need. these communities, ”said Richards.

Councilor Francisco Moya, chairman of the Zoning and Franchise Subcommittee, said New York’s FRESH update will allow the city to better reflect the needs of New Yorkers and protect the most vulnerable.

“Increased access to affordable, fresh food is part of how we prevent illnesses that are particularly prevalent in Black and Latin American communities,” Moya said. “We also need to make sure that we appropriately support businesses that promote healthier lifestyles. Healthier communities mean we will be better prepared for the future to fight a pandemic like COVID-19. I look forward to our continued partnership with City Planning to get this update and expansion to the finish line. ”

The proposal is an investment in the health of New York City communities. The lack of quality food options has a long-term impact on the health of New Yorkers, such as underlying health issues and shorter life expectancies. As the city recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the FRESH update will create more opportunities for healthy and accessible food for New Yorkers than ever before and reduce health disparities, especially in neighborhoods underserved.

In addition, each new grocery store that opens is expected to generate between 30 and 100 jobs.

“We are New Yorkers; we love good, healthy and fresh food, and no New Yorker should have a hard time finding fresh food for themselves and their family, ”said Marisa Lago, CCP chairperson. “By developing and improving FRESH, we make it even easier to build and maintain green grocery stores in areas where low-income families live, thereby improving their health and daily lives.”

Created in 2009, the FRESH zoning incentive gives homeowners the right to build slightly larger buildings in mixed residential and commercial neighborhoods if they include a FRESH supermarket. It also allows grocery stores to be located as of right in light manufacturing districts, thus increasing the locations where they can be built.

The FRESH update would add specific rules that a candidate must follow to create a new FRESH store near an existing location. Some communities have seen FRESH supermarkets cluster together, making it difficult for them to prosper. These new criteria would limit the potential for supersaturation.

For renovations to an existing building to build a FRESH supermarket, building owners will no longer have to replace existing walls with windows, removing a potentially expensive step from the process. It will also provide exemption from parking requirements for sites using up to 10,000 square feet of retail space in low density residential neighborhoods.

Rachel Loeb, President and CEO of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), congratulated DCP on starting the process and looks forward to expanding the FRESH incentive to other neighborhoods.

“Expanding FRESH zoning incentives will increase the number of grocery stores offering affordable and healthy food to those who have historically lacked access to it and will be key to the city’s recovery from COVID-19,” Loeb said.

Since the inception of the program, 27 projects have been approved for FRESH zoning incentives, eight of which are occupied as of February 2021.

The FRESH update was born from a DCP 2018 analysis, which showed that many neighborhoods remain underserved by high-quality grocery stores, highlighting the need to expand and strengthen the program. DCP also recently launched the Supermarket needs index, an interactive map that informs communities of nearby grocery stores and supermarkets – and shows which neighborhoods remain underserved.

The launch of the seven-month public review process marks the start of the FRESH update. The proposal will be forwarded to all affected community councils in the listed districts for review, followed by the five district presidents and district councils. The FRESH update will then be sent to the Planning Commission for a public hearing and a vote, followed by the City Council.

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