Inside the Great 15-Minute Grocery Delivery Rush

February 14, 2022 – Media Mention
Commercial Observer

Mitchell Korbey, chair of Herrick's Land Use & Zoning practice, spoke to the Commercial Observer about the rush of grocery delivery services setting up shop in New York. These venture capital-backed startups advertise grocery delivery service in 15 minutes or less.

The article explained, "Most of the fast grocery delivery startups in the city operate under the same basic business model. They lease small retail storefronts that function as mini warehouses, serving anyone who orders within a one-mile radius. The companies pay their employees as full-time workers, rather than the much-maligned contractor model of food-delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats, and they equip delivery staff with e-bikes, rain coats, winter jackets and boots."

It further outlined how these businesses could face complications with New York's zoning regulations, citing a press conference calling for more zoning regulations held by city Comptroller Brad Lander, the Bodega and Small Business Group and City Council members Lincoln Restler and Gale Brewer. 

The article stated Mitch felt that "the city needed to create new zoning for the grocery delivery start-ups."

Mitch explained, "If you can’t walk in there and buy potatoes, then that’s a warehouse[.]" He proposed, "The zoning code doesn’t have 'quick fulfillment center' in it. Maybe what the city wants to do is create a category for these mini warehouses. There may be a way to permit them in certain commercial zones, where there may not be a risk of displacing badly needed food stores. We could rezone certain commercial areas and allow them on a particular block."

Read the full article in the Commercial Observer here. Access may require a subscription.