In the News: Soho/Noho rezoning passes the City Council

The Soho/Noho rezoning plan passed the City Council on Dec. 15 despite protests from nearly every preservation group. Village Preservation, Tenants Political Action Committee, the Met Council on Housing, the NYC Chapter of the Sierra Club, Community Board 2, the Chinatown Working Group, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Preservation League of New York State and Christopher Marte, the elected councilman for Disttrict 1, all testified against it. The Municipal Arts Society danced around it, with testimony saying the city has to watch that the plan “actually will achieve its objectives of net-new affordable housing rather than spur high-end residential growth that will displace economically vulnerable long-time residents and also incentivize threats to the area’s rich neighborhood character.”

But those voices could not compete with what opponents say are Big Development, NYU (which has its eyes on dorm construction potential) and a plan for affordable housing, which again, opponents say will not materialize as planned.

I did not dig into this — was more than I could take on — and I may live to regret that when they come for Tribeca. Here’s the coverage from recent weeks:

City Limits did an analysis on the 3000 new residential units that the city says it will create — only 900 of those will be affordable under the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing policy. And that’s over a 56-block area. “Under MIH, developers constructing residential buildings in a rezoned area are forced to reserve a certain amount of the units for New Yorkers earning a percentage of area median income (AMI)—a.k.a. low- and middle-income renters. So how much will those new affordable apartments actually cost? That depends, but at least some will cost well below $1,000 per month.”

The Real Deal has a straight-up summary: “The rezoning of Soho and Noho represents the second such initiative to focus on a predominantly white and affluent area, following the rezoning of Gowanus in Brooklyn. The change allows for residential and commercial uses in areas that had been zoned for manufacturing.”

Gothamist has slightly different numbers on the residential being added, but notes that some of the buildings can be as high as 27-stories, in some areas along Broadway and Canal. Councilmember Margaret Chin, who represents SoHo and Chinatown, said the plan will open up the white and wealthy neighborhoods to more New Yorkers. “Look, the zoning hasn’t been changed for almost 50 years. And this way, residential will be allowed, and mandatory inclusionary zoning will have to be implemented to create affordable housing here, so that working families will have the opportunity to live in neighborhoods like SoHo, NoHo, that have so much resources,” said Chin at Wednesday’s meeting.

NY1 had a summary as well, with comments from opponents: But the proposal faced an uphill battle for more than a year with opponents arguing that the change would result in taller buildings that would drastically alter the cultural integrity of the historically artistic neighborhood. There is also debate around how many affordable housing units would be created under the plan. “We are disappointed that the carefully researched and documented flaws in this upzoning plan were not addressed in any meaningful way,” Jeannine Kiely, chair of Community Board 2, which recommended the city reject the plan, said in a statement. “We welcome affordable housing, but we remain concerned about displacement of low-income residents, including seniors aging in place and the demolition of their homes for lucrative luxury housing and commercial development.”



  1. Of course preservation groups opposed the SoHo/NoHo rezoning. That’s their mission. Fortunately, the city’s rapidly growing “more housing” movement was able to marshal more-powerful arguments in favor. For those interested, this celebratory statement by Open New York is a good summary:

    As in the Elizabeth St Garden matter, the preservationists’ arguments were not without merit. They simply couldn’t stand up to the need for more housing, especially affordable housing.

    • You sound like a developer, hiding under the guise of affordable housing, a whopping less than 2 per city block.

      • And your proposal for creating affordable housing is … what, exactly? Or you just don’t care?

        • Your arguments and those of your fellow YIMBY don’t persuade me. Not everyone can live in the best neighborhoods of NYC. It’s just not possible, and it’s ok that we have nicer neighborhoods and less nice neighborhoods, as long as we overall raise the living standards of all over time.
          We have the greatest transportation system in the US, where it’s trivially easy to commute from Long Island, NJ, CT, or other parts of the city. I agree that as a metro area, we should have affordable housing, but reject that every neighborhood needs to be the same. As long as the overall metro area has available housing, what’s the problem?

          This all being said — I’m personally not that bothered by the chunk of West SoHo that I’m mostly familiar with being rezoned (I’m less familiar with the other sections). For the most part, that corner of Canal and 6th is either extremely developed and won’t change (James hotel, SoHo Grand, the Two Sigma building) or are underdeveloped buildings that deserve to be rezoned as taller buildings with more housing.

      • Most if not all of the opposition to this plan does not understand affordable housing, how its developed and financed. They also dont account for the issue of wealthy neighborhoods constant rejection of adding affordable units. a tall building on broadway or canal is an issue? really? The no on Soho rezone was so obvious classic nimby and classic rejection of possible poc in your neighborhood. Ive been involved in these types of community issues for years. The the No group always says the same bs. And never quite understands how something gets built. Like at all.

    • From your link : “ One organization went so far as to publish a series of propaganda reports” that would seem like it sums up your organization perfectly. Do you really think people are this stupid? Even more absurd is clicking the past events tab on that site and seeing 20 links, all about the same issue. Hope you make a lot more money on your projects.

  2. What was meant in this article ‘when they come for Tribeca’? Do you think there will be an effort for similar rezoning in Tribeca?

  3. If you want affordable housing in our area that really makes sense displaces no one, in an area that already has tall buildings, check out what is being proposed for the public property owned by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp at 5 World Trade Center. Website is: .

  4. The gloves have come off! All this is laughable and sad. While bickering over privilege and affordability, the prize in point is a trash strewn, illegal fake goods vendors infested, low quality of life noisy and lawless area on the edge of Soho and Tribeca.
    Broadway and Canal is the epicenter of neglect and chaos that is ripe for the all mighty developers to wave their 27 story magic wand.
    What’s really needed is some real city management in cleaning up and bring some civility back to everyday life.
    Luxury in the middle of decay? Please.

  5. When will the plans on developments & construction be shared, does anyone know ? Is there a limit of how tall the buildings will be…