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NYC moves to crack down on fast delivery apps’ ‘dark stores’

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Mayor Eric Adams is moving to crack down on the proliferation of warehouse-like spaces that grocery delivery apps have created inside former Big Apple storefronts – ordering them to permit customers to buy there or move to the outskirts of the town, The Post has learned.

Critics including City Council members Gale Brewer and Christopher Marte have argued that storefronts operated by apps like Gopuff and Gorillas violate zoning laws because they operate mostly as warehouses and will subsequently move out of neighborhoods zoned for retail use.

In response, among the stores recently began allowing walk-in customers in an ad-hoc manner. 

This week, the Department of Buildings issued more specific guidance on how the storefronts can proceed to do business, saying they need to allow shoppers to enter, pick up items or place an order — without requiring them to first download an app.

Businesses that don’t allow shoppers to enter the shop and to buy goods on the spot could be relegated to areas of the town zoned for manufacturing, a DOB spokesperson told The Post.

Latest York City is issuing recent rules that can regulate where these businesses can operate.Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The DOB likewise took aim at practices which have led to the nickname “dark stores” because passersby can’t see contained in the spaces. The agency said any storefront windows which can be obscured by “greater than 50% with posters, paper, vinyl tint, and other opaque materials may lead to DOB violations.”

At one point there have been greater than 100 of locations in the town, but in recent months a number have folded, including Russian-backed Buyk and Fridge No More.

“The Adams administration is committed to fostering innovation and protecting quality of life as a part of a sturdy and inclusive economic recovery for our city, and we expect the ultimate version of this technical evaluation will just do that,” a spokesperson for the mayor’s office said in a press release.

A Gopuff worker sitting on the floor in a store surrounded by  merchandise.Gopuff is among the many grocery delivery apps which have arrange shop within the Big Apple. Courtesy of @gopuff

“We’re still within the midst of this process, and we stay up for continued engagement with elected officials, advocates, and community partners to make sure we get this right,” the spokesperson added.

The proposed rules shall be open for public comment until May 20.

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