SoHo-NoHo, NY — The city released a set of recommendations for zoning reforms in the Lower Manhattan neighborhoods of SoHo and NoHo that call for greater affordable housing development and more commercial zoning following a six-month study of the area.
The three goals of recommendations laid out in the city’s “Envision SoHo/NoHo” report include: improving quality of life for residents and workers, encouraging neighborhood diversity and promoting economic vitality. These goals can be accomplished by updating 1970s-era zoning regulations for the neighborhoods, according to the city study.
SoHo and NoHo were initially zoned for manufacturing uses, but now contain more than 8,000 residents and a bustling commercial district that employs more than 51,000 people, city officials said. One of the main recommendations outlined in the Envision SoHo/NoHo report is to repeal regulations outlawing ground-floor retail (stores in the neighborhoods currently operate with special permits) while capping that retail space at 10,000 square feet.
In addition to modernizing regulations on commercial properties, the city recommends housing development on SoHo and NoHo sites that are under utilized. To balance out fears of over-development and displacement, the city recommended regulations that would protect SoHo an Noho’s artist communities and existing rent-regulated tenants.
“Home to artists and entrepreneurs, shoppers and makers, SoHo and NoHo are among New York City’s most historic mixed-use neighborhoods. With an eye to creating affordable housing, cleaning up outdated zoning codes and ensuring that these communities thrive for decades to come,” Department of City Planning Director Marisa Lago said in a statement.
The city’s effort to rezone SoHo and NoHo has been met with opposition from some local residents. A group of community organizations formed the “Save SoHo-NoHo Coalition” coalition in March and raised concerns that a rezoning could harm the area’s existing character.
Recommendations laid out in the Envision SoHo/NoHo report were created during a six-month community study led by various city agencies from January to June. The study included six public meetings and workshops, six focus group discussions and 18 advisory group meetings. The advisory group was made up of local stakeholders such as local city council representatives, community boards, community groups such as the Broadway Residents Coalition and institutions such as New York University and Cooper Union.