Albany updates rezoning ordinance, some businesses to stay open later

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Areas in downtown Albany could be getting busier after a change in the city’s rezoning ordinance.

Restaurants like Café Lark on Madison Avenue used to have to close by 11 p.m., but now they’re able to stay open until 2 a.m. Owner Serkan Topaktas said staying open later will be great for his business.

Café Lark stands near the busy intersection of Lark Street and Madison Avenue. It’s been open four years. Topaktas said business has been great, but it could always be better.

He said it wasn’t fair for other businesses to stay open later while he had to close by 11 p.m. based on the city’s codes.

“Before, it wasn’t fair for everybody,” he said. “Some of the restaurants and bars can open late.”

But the codes have changed. The planning board faced the common council at a public hearing Tuesday night to go over the city’s final rezone draft. Mayor Kathy Sheehan said the codes hadn’t been changed in 50 years.

“There are divisions that allow businesses to not just stay open during hours that you would expect them to be open but to also operate a space in a much more functional way,” she said.

But businesses that have been around longer, like Savoy Tavern, are not affected and can still stay open until 4 a.m. The owner, Daniel Atkins, said the late closing has done them well.

“A lot of us, including here, got our initial investment based on 4 a.m., so there’s some value to that over the long term,” he said. “And I also think it helps with the safety in the neighborhood.”

Even though the new codes don’t affect him, Atkins said the more people the merrier with a high chance to also reduce crime.

“Lark Street still is certainly very vibrant and alive, especially on the weekends,” he said.

Aside from being able to stay open later, businesses can now also open on the second floor, which wasn’t allowed before.

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