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SoHo/NoHo Study Released – Upzoning To Follow?

The City, Borough President Gale Brewer, and City Councilmember Margaret Chin recently finally released (several months late) their SoHo/NoHo Report following up on several months of “public engagement” about the future of these two neighborhoods – read the report here.

For better or worse, the report had no real surprises in it, as it largely echoed what had been publicly presented in June.  Most of the recommendations are broad and vague, and fortunately in most cases avoid many of the controversial possibilities real estate interests were lobbying for, including vastly increasing the allowable size of retail spaces in the neighborhood.

However, there was one area left purposely vague about which Village Preservation had raised concerns and asked for clarifications in June, which the study sponsors have not provided.  Buried within the report on p.68 it says:  

Although limited, opportunities for new affordable housing include potential development on a number of underused lots both within and outside of the historic districts (e.g. parking lots, lots occupied by one-story buildings), as well as non-residential buildings conducive to residential conversion. Potential implementation strategies include:  Explore opportunities for increased density (emphasis added), where appropriate, to expand opportunities for the creation of housing, including affordable housing…

Adding affordable housing in SoHo and NoHo would be welcomed by virtually everyone, and existing rules already allow larger development to replace parking lots and small, non-historic buildings either inside or outside of the neighborhood’s historic districts.  In fact, multiple buildings of ten or more stories have already been built under current rules on such sites throughout the neighborhood – buildings which are as tall if not taller than by far the majority of their neighbors. 



Images of new development in SoHo (l.) and NoHo, showing the scale allowed under current rules.  An upzoning could dramatically increase the allowable size of new development.


But under this administration, “increased density,” especially when connected to “affordable housing,” usually means upzoning, or changing the rules to allow much larger development than what current rules allow – often as much as 2 to 3 times the size. So while building on such lots in accordance with current rules would be welcome, an upzoning, allowing development to extend beyond the existing rules, would not. 

Further hearings on the plan are supposed to be scheduled in the next several weeks. We will let you know when those happen, and if and when any particular proposals for changes to zoning or other rules begin the public review process.


To Help:

Tell City Officials That Upzoning is Not Acceptable in SoHo and NoHo, and Not Necessary To Provide Affordable Housing








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