The back and forth on the Soho/Noho rezoning

There’s been a lot of back and forth on the city’s proposed Soho/Noho Rezoning plan lately (see the FAQ here) and I am compiling a bit of it here so you can do a deeper dive. Village Preservation, the 40-year-old non-profit that advocates for and monitors the architectural heritage of Greenwich Village, the East Village and NoHo, wrote a report that predicts the “SoHo/NoHo Rezoning Plan will make these neighborhoods richer, whiter, and more expensive to live in than they are now, and likely create significantly less affordable housing than projected, potentially destroying more affordable housing than it creates.”

Crain’s then got the urban planner and former City Planning head Carl Weisbrod to say that the report is misleading when it claims that mandatory inclusionary housing will create luxury condos.

Also on the other side, there’s a Fix SoHo/NoHo Coalition, which is advocating in support of the plan (though it is hard to tell who they are exactly — they describe themselves as a coalition of “residents, owners, area workers and businesses advocating to fix this regulatory mess).

Local elected officials Gale Brewer and Margaret Chin held a series of hearings, and in December they issued a nine-page joint testimony to the Department of City Planning on the plan’s draft scope of work, with specifics on many quality of life issues. This is the easiest way to get into the overall plan without reading 86 pages, if you ask me.

Their conclusion: “We ask that the DCP work closely with the LPC to identify, conserve, and protect the longstanding landmarked buildings in the SoHo/NoHo historic district and that tenant protections for live-work spaces are upheld in any transition. This is an important opportunity to modernize outdated zoning to better reflect current conditions of the SoHo/NoHo neighborhoods. However, the mixed-use legacy and unique neighborhood character that originated from historical zoning measures must be protected and celebrated.”

The Times last covered the plan in October, and soon after the Editorial Board supported it as a way to both create affordable housing and ease business restrictions, while giving a nod to the preservationists against the plan: “Before dismissing the concerns of preservationists out of hand, consider the role they played in the middle of the previous century when they helped block the planner Robert Moses from building a highway directly through the neighborhood. The SoHo rezoning presents no such existential threat. Housing here can be built in a way that fits the needs of a city with a dire housing shortage, making richer, not destroying, the existing life of the neighborhood. The rezoning can also ease the way for businesses and restaurants in the coming years, both of which have taken a hard hit during the pandemic.”



  1. To add some clarity: Wiesbrod and Crain’s are full members of the real estate industrial complex of this city and they are always for upzoning, no matter what. The fake rezoning coalition that advocates for the rezoning is filled with OPEN NY members, who are basically the Proud Boys of REBNY supporters. The TIMES is echoing uninformed wokism that thinks attacking historic districts is the way to go to build more housing in Manhattan, which is already the densest place in the entire country. The only rational work I’ve seen done on the issue is the extremely intelligent, well argued, fact-based report from GVHSP, or Village Preservation. The attack on historic districts is only beginning and Tribecans should be extremely wary of the arguments that historic districts need to be upzoned for affordable housing, which as the Village Preservation report amply documented in detail, is nonsense.

    • If you don’t like tall buildings, and don’t want to live with poor people, immigrants, and other ethnicities, move to Westchester.

    • The only Proud Boys are the NIMBYS trying to stop affordable housing because they know it helps BIPOC.

      Must be hard to be a multimillion dollar condo owner in SoHo these days.

    • An attack? Sorry no empathy. The rezoning is needed and preserves the good of Soho while adding housing. I was born here and have lived around the changes to the area since the 70s. And no not all Crains readers are what you say, if any.

    • Before you cast aspersions, I remind you that Weisbrod was head of the NYC Loft Board shortly after its formation, and led the creation of most of the rules that “protected” the vast majority of tenants in SoHo, giving them lifelong rights to huge spaces at a tiny fraction of market rent.

  2. I am wary of outsiders advocating for conditions that will affect stakeholder residents, workers and businesses that actually live or have interests in Soho/Noho.

  3. Village Preservation is doing a free live webinar tonight, Mon, March 15 on the SoHo NoHo upzoning. proposal. Here is the link: