Confronting Renewed SoHo/NoHo Upzoning Push From Groups With (Undisclosed) Vested Interests

Proponents of upzoning SoHo and NoHo have restarted a campaign to get the City to turn the process of re-examining zoning and other regulations in these neighborhoods, undertaken in 2019 by the Mayor, Borough President Brewer, and City Councilmember Chin, into a vehicle for granting a 250% increase in the allowable size of development here. In recent days, the NY Post has editorialized in favor of it, and the Citizens Housing and Planning Council has issued reports and op-eds calling for it.
What the non-profit CHPC failed to reveal in those pieces, however, is that its board consists of developers who own unbuilt lots in SoHo and NoHo who would profit tremendously from such a change, along with other big real estate interests for whom such a change could also result in dramatic windfalls. The report and op-ed also dishonestly paint opposition to the massive upzoning plan which would line the pockets of well-connected developers as being about opposition to affordable housing, rather than opposition to neighborhood-busting scaled new development. Current zoning roles have allowed buildings of 210-311 feet tall in these neighborhoods; upzoning proponents want to increase those allowances two-and-a-half times over.
(l. to r.) 10 Sullivan St. (204 ft. tall), The James Hotel (258 ft. tall), and the Mondrian SoHo (311 ft. tall). Upzoning advocates want to allow buildings in SoHo and NoHo 250% larger than these.
Village Preservation has pushed back on this latest campaign, pointing out the undisclosed vested interests behind it and the fact that more affordable housing could actually be added in these neighborhoods under existing size restrictions and rules than under their upzoning plan — see coverage here and here. Read Village Preservation’s op-ed refuting CHPC’s recent statements and report here and read our prior op-ed on the subject here and learn more here (see “updates”).
It’s critical that we let the Mayor, Borough President Brewer, Councilmember Chin, and other city officials know that while affordable housing is welcome in our neighborhoods, upzoning schemes that produce massive development largely of super-luxury housing, which these plans call for, are not:
September 16, 2020