SoHo/NoHo Update: Certified Plan Contains Demographic Deception and NYU Welcome Mat; Community Groups Demand Electeds Reject

The voluminous materials for the City’s certified SoHo/NoHo plan contained countless inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and outright lies, but no improvements or adjustments to address the many pointed criticisms the plan has received. However, there were a few important new takeaways:

  1. Reading the fine print, the City revealed how they skewed demographic data to support the conclusions they wished to make about the makeup of the neighborhood, hiding lower-income and Asian American residents of the rezoning area. Meanwhile, it also inadvertently revealed that our demographic data (which the City and other supporters of the upzoning tried to discredit) was actually in line with legal requirements for measuring the impacts of the proposed rezoning. Read more here.
  2. The plan included one huge new terrible element — it would allow NYU (and the full range of what are called “community facilities” under zoning rules) to build and locate in these neighborhoods. NYU has been trying to get into NoHo and SoHo for years, but current zoning prohibits it. The City’s plan would swing the doors wide open to the university, not only damaging the character of these neighborhoods but also giving developers one more way to avoid the affordable-housing requirements that are the supposed rationale for this plan (“community facilities,” like commercial space, retail, and luxury condos of no more than 25K-sq-ft per zoning lot, are exempted from the affordable-housing requirements). Worse, this violates the promise made when the NYU 2031 expansion plan was approved (by Councilmember Margaret Chin and Borough President Gale Brewer, among others, who must now also approve the SoHo/NoHo plan) that it would be the limit of the university’s expansion in the area. Read more in the addendum to our recently issued report here.

In response to this and the general horribleness of the City’s plan, Village Preservation and a dozen other community groups wrote to our four local officials who will vote on the plan calling upon them to reject it. Read the letter here. Community Board 2 will be holding several public meetings to discuss the plan in June; see their calendar here.

May 28, 2021