Another SoHo/NoHo Rezoning Fail: New Luxury Development Includes Private Pool, NO Affordable Housing

(l. to r.) 40 Wooster St., 32 Thompson St., and 360 Bowery

Mayor de Blasio, Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera, and most members of the City Council championed the SoHo/NoHo/Chinatown Upzoning + Displacement Plan in 2021 promising it would promote affordable housing development and wouldn’t destroy existing affordable rent-regulated housing. Sad to say, their predictions have turned out to be far from true — as we warned.

The latest news of a development under the rezoning illustrates this. According to published reports, 40 Wooster Street, a six-story commercial building in the rezoning area, will be converted to full-floor and duplex luxury apartments, including one with its own private pool — all thanks to the rezoning (prior zoning would not have allowed such a conversion). And while City officials promised all residential developments under the rezoning would include affordable housing, this one utilizes one of the many loopholes we pointed out that allows them to avoid doing so. The retail ground floor is exempted from affordable housing requirements (the new zoning actually requires a retail ground floor), leaving just shy of 12,500 sq ft of residential space to be developed above. Developments with less than 12,500 sq ft of residential space are exempted from the affordable housing requirements.

This is the latest in a long line of projects announced or begun under the rezoning that deviated from the City’s promises and predictions. At 32 Thompson Street, the City initially predicted no development would take place because the site contained a building with rent-regulated apartments, which it claimed would not be endangered by the rezoning (we argued vehemently otherwise). The building and all its rent-regulated units have since been demolished, with no word yet as to what will be built there. At 360 Bowery, where the City predicted affordable housing would be included in a new development, a 283-ft-tall luxury office tower has gone up with no affordable housing. Another announced development on Centre Street — located within what the plan’s proponents labeled a “housing opportunity zone” within the rezoning — will also include no housing, affordable or otherwise. There are two announced developments in the rezoning area that are supposed to include some affordable housing, along with three times as many super-luxury units: one at 126 Lafayette Street, which appears to be in some limbo since demolition work on the site resulted in the death of a worker; and one at 277 Canal Street where no work has yet begun, but which is located on a site where the City predicted no new development would take place under the rezoning (read more in our report Less Reliable Than Flipping a Coin: the Department of City Planning’s Miserable Track Record of Predicting Rezoning Outcomes.

Village Preservation will continue to track and publicize how this rezoning does and does not live up to its promises, and to advocate for reforming the rezoning to address the real needs of our city and the impacted communities. 

October 24, 2023