SoHo: Restaurants and shops mix with high rental costs

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By Nikkitha Bakshani Special to amNewYork March 23, 2016
SoHo is a neighborhood with two faces: It’s touristy, but also
has a sense of community From shopping to art to the area’s history, there is something
here for everybody, locals say — that is, those who can afford it.
In terms of housing prices in the downtown Manhattan nabe,
“the sky is the limit,” said John Brandon, a licensed real estate
agent from Citi Habitats who works in the area.
SoHo’s median sales price has been above $2 million since
2012, according to the real estate listings site StreetEasy,
when the median price rose 16.5% year-over-year, from $1.995 million in 2011 to $2.325 million.
The median sales price in SoHo in 2015 was $2,672,500, which was down 10.8% from the 2014 median of $2.995 million, according to StreetEasy.
On the rental side, the median asking rent in SoHo in 2015 was $4,000, up 6.7% from $3,750 in 2014, according to StreetEasy.
By comparison, the median sales price in Manhattan as a whole in 2015 was $967,750, and the median asking rent was $3,195.
But longtime residents are staying put despite the rising prices.
“Although the astronomical housing prices have put living in SoHo out of reach for most New Yorkers, there is a remaining community of longtime residents that keep the neighborhood’s vibrancy alive,” noted Councilman Corey Johnson, whose district includes SoHo.
For example, he said SoHo residents make sure that zoning requirements are respected by retailers and developers, especially in the buildings in the area’s Cast Iron Historic District, which was designated by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1973.
Forty-year resident Sean Sweeney, director of the SoHo Alliance, a volunteer advocacy group, said most retailers follow their guidelines and harmonize well with SoHo.
“We don’t want SoHo to become Herald Square,” he said.
This dynamic appeals to Maud Maron, a member of the local Community Board 2 who moved to SoHo four years ago with her husband and three kids.
“I was worried it would feel like a mall when we moved here, but I was surprised and pleased by the sense of community,” Maron, 44, said.
Still, for many New Yorkers, SoHo is an easily-accessible shopping hub, with everything from big brands like Uniqlo and Topshop to chic designers like GUESS, Sam Edelman and Rag & Bone to the department store Bloomingdale’s.
The area is also home to many art galleries, like Melet Mercantile, which has an appointment-only showroom of film and theater set designer ephemera, and Team Gallery, a commercial space, both on Wooster Street.
Food options range from upscale eateries like Balthazar at 80 Spring St. and The Mercer Kitchen at 99 Prince St. to halal trucks on street corners.
In terms of downsides to the neighborhood, two-year resident Ella West said its popularity attracts crowds of people and tourists, which can overwhelm locals.
“Broadway is not an option on the weekends,” said West, 26, who lives on the cobblestoned Crosby Street.
But SoHo residents love their easy access to public transit, with 12 train lines going to the area, she said. Its proximity to the West Side Highway is great for joggers and people with cars, and it is within walking distance of NoLita, Chinatown, the Lower East Side and TriBeCa.
“Because the rent is so high [in SoHo], some shops in the neighborhood have no problem charging $7 for a few walnuts,” West said. “It’s great to be able to pick up groceries in Chinatown, where you can find great produce and fish for a fraction of the price.”
Find it:
SoHo is bordered by West Houston Street to the north and Canal Street to the south, and stretches across from the West Side Highway to the west to Lafayette Street to the east, according to StreetEasy.

SoHo residents unhappy with bright new Beyonce Topshop ad

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MANHATTAN – A mega-billboard featuring mega celebrity Beyonce is causing a huge
stir in SoHo.

The video advertisement is outside the Topshop store on Broadway near Broome Street.
The illuminated display is for Beyonce’s athletic line that sells in Topshop stores, Ivy Park.
Shopper Steven Herling told PIX11 News, “if they pay for it and they are hiring Beyonce
for an ad they can make it as big as they want.”

But some SoHo residents are fed up.

Sean Sweeney, Director of the SoHo Alliance explains the issue is that it´s a “jumbotron.”
“It might be appropriate for Times Square but it´s not appropriate for a mixed use
neighborhood like SoHo,” Sweeney said.

The ad plays 24 hours a day. The light reflects off of businesses across the street and
shines into the apartments of some living nearby.

“We wish that the store owners who are here and the advertisers would take some
sensitivity,” Sweeney said. “Would they want this in their front yard? Would they want
this near their homes? I don’t think so. Why would they do this to SoHo residents?”
Topshop did not immediately respond to PIX11´s request for a comment regarding the billboard.


Blinded by the lights: Soho residents blitzed by blazing store windows

May 5, 2016 | Filed under: News | Posted by: The Villager

BY COLIN MIXSON | Soho locals say they’re living in perpetual daylight thanks to a proliferation of gaudy, illuminated marketing gizmos by Broadway retailers that beam an uninvited glow intoneighboring windows at all hours of the night.
Making matters worse, legislation was enacted to curb the noxious advertising schemes employed by local retailers in 2001, but the Department of Buildings — the agency responsible for enacting the provisions — has failed to set the standards necessary to enforce it, and residents feel like they’ve been left swaying in the wind.
“They’re covering their ass,” said Pete Davies, a 36-year resident of Broadway, and member of the ad-hoc community-based organization Broadway Residents Coalition.
Over the past few years, Broadway between Canal and E. Ninth Sts. has seen a sort of marketing arms race, as big-name fashion merchants — including Michael Kors, Kenneth Cole, H&M and Topshop — race to erect bigger and brighter LED displays than their retail rivals, and the problem is only getting worse.

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“The retailers just want attention for whatever they’re selling inside, and they get in competition with each other, so it’s spreading,” Davies said.
A new 20-foot-by-10-foot ad for Beyoncé’s new athletic gear is on a continuous video loop at Topshop, and some days is on for 24 hours straight.
“A lot of people come to Soho and see a shopping mall, but to us who live here, it’s our
neighborhood,” Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, told WPIX News. “The issue is that it’s a Jumbotron. It might be appropriate on Times Square, but not in a mixed-use neighborhood like Soho. Would the advertisers want this near their home, in their front yard? So why are they doing it to Soho residents?”
Adding to the illicit illumination, media juggernaut OUTFRONT Prime has taken to buying up billboards on Broadway and along nearby Broome St., and they’re not shy about letting locals know about it. The company has installed glowing nameplates on each of its newly acquired billboards, providing locals with a few thousand additional lumens worth of sleep-disturbing torment. In an effort to give community members some peace and darkness, the City Council passed a resolution introduced by former Soho Councilmember Kathryn Freed that requires the Department of Buildings to set standards for illuminated signs and how much light can be cast into nearby windows. The rule specifically applies to residences or artists’ joint living-work quarters in M1-3 manufacturing or C1-8 commercial districts.

It’s 15 years later, though, and those standards still have yet to be set, with the agency citing technical limitations as its excuse for letting the matter slide.
“There are limitations to promulgating a rule to establish what would constitute a reasonable uniform standard that would encapsulate and define a set level of illumination that evidently interferes with the use of a residence or joint living-work quarters for artists in M1-3 or C1-8 districts,” a Department of Buildings spokesperson said.
It’s unclear exactly what those technical difficulties are, but the problem may have as much to do with the legislation’s vague wording as it does with the agency’s physical limitations.
An agency official said the resolution’s wording makes it unclear whether it calls for a citywide standard on illuminated signs, or various standards tailored for specific areas. For instance, he questioned whether Times Square, a commercial area where super-bright lights are actually encouraged, should be held to the same standards as Soho or other residential neighborhoods. “There’s nothing in place to standardize whether that should be a citywide standard, or should the level of illumination vary from area to area,” the D.O.B. official noted. “Should everything be allowed to operate like Times Square, or should everything be scaled back?”

Meanwhile, locals are caught between the unending glow of local commerce and the city’s indecision — and no excuse is going to help them sleep at night.
“I think it’s called ‘doubletalk,’ ” Davies said. “I don’t know what they’re saying.”