City Proposes Further ‘Changes’ to Upzoning Proposal for SoHo, NoHo, and Chinatown that Amount to Nothing

In spite of the overwhelming opposition to this rezoning proposal at the City Planning Commission’s sole public hearing on the matter, and the mountain of evidence provided to the Commission that the plan would do more harm than good and achieve few of its purported goals, the Commission has only proposed incredibly modest changes to the plan that do little or nothing to diminish its incredibly negative impact.

Street in SoHo/NoHo

The Commission met again this week to discuss the plan, and proposed a tiny change to its allowance for giant big-box chain retail and eating and drinking establishments of unlimited size in the area. Those of more than 25,000 sq ft would be required to secure a “chair’s certification” for adequate plans for loading and unloading (which requires no public hearing and is almost automatically granted — buildings with internal loading docks wouldn’t even be required to do this). This is a far cry from the prohibition on retail of more than 10,000 sq ft, and eating and drinking establishments of more than 5,000 sq ft, without receiving a special permit (which required a full public review and approval process) that Village Preservation, allied groups, and the Community Board have called for. The City’s proposed very minor revisions will still encourage the displacement of art galleries and smaller independently owned and locally oriented businesses, making these neighborhoods home to little but mega-chain retail and oversized bars and restaurants. This is similar to the “window dressing” changes the Commission proposed to the plan at its last discussion.

We expect the Commission (controlled by the Mayor) to vote to approve the plan on or around October 20. There it will go to the City Council, where local Councilmembers Margaret Chin, Carlina Rivera, and Corey Johnson will likely largely decide its fate.


October 8, 2021