Ensuring SoHo/NoHo Don’t Become Another Upzoning Casualty

Area residents at recent SoHo/NoHo meeting. (Photo by Joaquin Cotler/AMNY).
 Recent meetings about potential changes to zoning rules governing SoHo and NoHo have drawn standing-room-only crowds.  While by far the majority of those in attendance have been local residents concerned with preserving the character of their neighborhoods and improving quality of life, a vocal minority have been using the process to call for massive upzonings in these neighborhoods.  Consisting largely of non-residents of the neighborhood — some with established ties to the real estate industry —  their calls for upzoning (changing the rules to allow much larger new buildings than current rules allow) were (vaguely) echoed in the report recently issued on behalf of the City, Borough President Gale Brewer, and City Councilmember Margaret Chin, and strongly supported by recent public comments by Deputy Mayor Vicki Been.

Village Preservation has been on the front lines of the effort to ensure that no upzoning is adopted for these neighborhoods.  Current rules easily allow for 10-12 story new buildings in the neighborhood, and in some cases have allowed ones over 300 ft. tall. Upzoning advocates are calling for rules which would allow new construction two and a half times as large as what current rules permit! 
All of these buildings (l. to r.: 10 Sullivan, 204 ft. tall; the James Hotel, 258 ft.tall; the Mondrian SoHo, 311 ft. tall) were built under the current zoning limits for these SoHo and NoHo. Upzoning would lift those limits and allow for even larger buildings—some are calling for 2.5 X the size of what current rules allow!
 Both the City and upzoning advocates perpetuate the myth that the only way to address the need for affordable housing in these neighborhoods and throughout the city is through upzoning. This is patently false, as current zoning rules in every New York City neighborhood allow new construction – though in many of our neighborhoods that ends up being nothing more than super-luxury condos.  Preserving existing affordable housing and creating new affordable housing could easily be achieved in SoHo/NoHo without resorting to upzonings that would destroy neighborhood character and primarily benefit developers. Read our opinion piece about this here, and coverage here.

Whether or not the City will seek to change the zoning for SoHo and NoHo and how remains to be seen. They are still gathering feedback from the public about what sort of changes they would like to see, and what they would oppose.

Tell City Officials You Oppose Upzoning SoHo and NoHo, As Well As Allowing Mega-Retail in the Neighborhood – CLICK HERE
 For more information, see gvshp.org/SoHoNoHo
January 23, 2020