Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced today that his SoHo/NoHo neighborhood rezoning plan will soon proceed to the public review stage.
The plan seeks to change the neighborhoods’ existing zoning rules to account for their new housing needs and economic challenges. The plan’s three specific goals are as follows:
- allowing housing, particularly affordable housing, to flourish in the neighborhoods;
- offering greater flexibility for ground floor use by small businesses;
- and making the area more accommodating to live-work and cultural spaces.
If successful, the plan would help further de Blasio’s citywide goals of equitable growth and fair housing.
“New York City has changed a lot in the last fifty years, and SoHo and NoHo have changed with it,” said de Blasio. “Thoughtful, progressive zoning changes will pave the way for the next fifty years of growth – while making two iconic neighborhoods more accessible than ever, and helping us rebuild a fairer and better city.”
The changes would span the area bordered by Canal Street, Houston Street and Astor Place, Lafayette Street and the Bowery, and Sixth Avenue and West Broadway. Said changes would both allow the creation of new homes in the area and mandate the inclusion of affordable housing in all new developments. The Mayor’s office projects that the rezoning will create up to 3,200 new homes, 800 of which will be permanently affordable.
It would also repeal convoluted, outdated regulations that do more harm than good to local businesses and artisans. The area’s current zoning laws favor the manufacturing industry – which dominated the neighborhoods in the 70’s, but has since departed.
“As our city continues its path to rebuild and recover, the movement to secure housing justice and build inclusive neighborhoods has never been more urgent. Our collective recovery as a city will be determined by how our communities rise up to confront that challenge,” said Council Member Margaret Chin (D-Battery Park City, Chinatown). “For years, I have maintained that the fight to create more deeply affordable housing and expand housing stability is a shared responsibility, and I look forward to working with residents, stakeholders, and the Administration to taking our community dialogue to shape the future of SoHo and NoHo to the next level and chart a path forward that brings more opportunities for desperately-needed affordable housing while preserving and enhancing the artistic, cultural, and historical components that make these neighborhoods so special.”
However, not everyone is quite as enthused about the news, as the announcement incited backlash from local community groups. Some complained that the plan, in practice, will do little to promote affordability, and instead favor super-luxury housing. Others pointed out that the Mayor had failed to consult a community advisory group before proceeding with his proposal – despite promising to do so.
“In spite of assurance for months to the contrary, it looks like city officials are moving full steam ahead with a plan to upzone SoHo and NoHo, to allow vastly increased amounts of super-luxury housing in the neighborhood in out of scale high-rise towers, while they continue to refuse to consider measures that would produce more affordable housing while preserving neighborhood scale and character,” said said Village Preservation Executive Director Andrew Berman. “In typical de Blasio Administration fashion, this decision-making process shut the community out when consultation was promised, and the result really serves to enrich his developer/donors and not the average New Yorkers or New Yorkers in need he claims to serve and represent. This upzoning approach of super luxury towers with a small set aside for affordable units is bad for New York City, bad for our neighborhoods, and bad for affordability.”
The notice for the scoping hearing (which has the Mayor receive public feedback for his proposal’s initial draft) will be released this Friday.