If Battery Park City sometimes seems a tad buttoned down, part of the reason may be all the forms of work and trade that are officially forbidden within the 92 acres of landfill between West Street and the Hudson River.
The neighborhood, although governed and managed by the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), is subject to oversight by the de Blasio Administration’s City Planning Commission, which categorizes Battery Park City as, “a special purpose district.” (These are areas of the City that the Commission designates, “to achieve specific planning and urban design objectives in defined areas with unique characteristics.”)
A review of the zoning resolution for Battery Park’s City’s special purpose district, enacted by the de Blasio Administration in March, 2016, lists more than 20 businesses that may not set up shop between Battery Place and Chambers Street.
Visitors had best come prepared to shell out for premium accommodations, because hotels (of which Battery Park City has two) are welcome, but motels, “boatels,” or tourist cabins are all off limits. And the rest of us should be resigned to paying retail for anything we buy here, because, “wholesale establishments” are also taboo.
Residents facing hard financial times will have to trek all the way to Canal Street to hock valuables, because pawn shops are on the prohibited list.
And in what may be a hardship to those about to move in or out of Battery Park City, the City abjures moving and storage companies from hanging a shingle anywhere on North End or South End Avenues.
If your apartment is a bit of a fixer-upper, you will have to look elsewhere for lumber stores, window cleaners, floor waxers, and upholstering shops, which are disallowed, as are “electrical glazing, heating, painting, paper hanging, plumbing, roofing, or ventilating contractors’ establishments.”
The same rules that inhibit maintaining the place you inhabit will also crimp the urge to pimp your ride: Anybody selling automotive glass or mirrors, car seat covers, convertible tops, or tires is shut out of this part of Lower Manhattan. The same anti-automotive animus extends to refreshment stands, which are permitted, but not if they offer drive-in service.
If you want to keep a recently deceased pet snuggled at the foot of your bed, you won’t find a single taxidermist in Brookfield Place, because they are banished by City order. (The nearest places to have animals stuffed are in Middle Village, Queens, and Union City, New Jersey.) On the other hand, getting rid of critters, rather than preserving them, is also a tough sell: exterminators are excluded.
Finally, if you happen to die in Battery Park City, your loved ones will have to grieve elsewhere: the list additionally proscribes funeral establishments, monument sales shops, and “trade embalmers.”
If all of this makes you want to invoke your First Amendment rights, by publishing a pamphlet or emblazoning a building with a pithy phrase of protest, you are out of luck: printing and sign-making emporia are also nixed.
But, lest you imagine that only the private sector is shackled with these onerous restrictions, the zoning resolution for Battery Park’s City’s special purpose district also lists one government function that is outlawed within the community. Under the heading of “public service establishments,” the resolution specifies that prisons cannot be built anywhere between Stuyvesant High School and Pier A. Setting aside that correctional facilities may be the last bastion of government-supported affordable housing in Lower Manhattan, this caveat may inflict a final indignity on any resident who is incarcerated for trying to make ends meet by operating one of the enterprises listed above. For they will have to serve their time elsewhere.