SoHo Midsummer News Update

– NYPD Contrite on Illegal Search & Seizure at Chin Town Hall: It Won’t Happen Again – Here or Anywhere Else in the City
– 462 Broadway Mega-Store Setback; Attend City Council Hearing Thursday
– Free Visits for Practicing Artists at the Judd House/Museum
– How Artists Fought to Keep SoHo Rents Affordable—and Why It Matters Today
NYPD Contrite on Illegal Search & Seizure at Chin Town Hall: It Won’t Happen Again – Here or Anywhere Else in the City
In our last update, we reported on a Town Hall meeting sponsored by Councilmember Margaret Chin featuring Mayor de Blasio at the Bowery YMCA where Police Department officers searched the bags, knapsacks and even the pockets of every person entering the meeting – looking for activist or political flyers.  These flyers were then confiscated and dumped in a pile on the street for disposal.  (Not surprisingly, Chin’s staffers were allowed to hand out her promotional material inside the hall)
The SoHo Alliance retained prominent civil rights attorney, Norman Siegel, to protest this violation of our Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures, as well as our First Amendment right of free speech and free association.
Mr. Siegel immediately dispatched a letter to the Mayor, Councilmember Chin and Police Commissioner O’Neill objecting to this illegal behavior.
We are pleased to report that Police Department counsel has contacted Mr. Siegel and said that the order by a member of the mayor’s security detail at the event was improper and indicated that it will never happen again.
It is gratifying to get such prompt and satisfactory results from the NYPD lawyers.  We are satisfied to hear that the Police Department agrees with us that this type of heavy-handed action should never happen in our city again.
We thank Norman Siegel on behalf of SoHo and all of the city for his diligent efforts defending our constitutional rights.
– 462 Broadway Mega-Store Setback; Attend City Council Hearing Thursday
Regrettably, last week the City Planning Commission voted to approve a Special Permit application for a massive and intrusive 45,000 sq.ft multi-floor retail store at 462 Broadway, which stretches around Grand to Crosby Street, despite widespread community and poltiical opposition.  
This action will only serve to drive up residential, commercial and retail rents, as well as property taxes, and add to the unwanted crowding on our sidewalks.
It now proceeds to the City Council, which is mandated with the final say on land-use applications.  The Council’s Zoning Committee is holding its hearing on the issue this Thursday, before it goes to the Full Council for a final vote.  
Although every other elected official representing SoHo has come out against this application, Councilmember Chin has been silent.  The Council generally defers to the district councilmember on local land-use proposals.  
Approval could open the flood gates to many more developers who are awaiting the Council’s decision on oversized stores in our neighborhood.
Make the city respect and enforce the zoning rules that were put in place to protect the character and quality-of-life of our neighborhood. The Council should reject this request for a Special Permit. We need to fill the room, so bring anyone you know who may share your concern. Children are welcome too.
SAY NO to BIG RETAIL in our mixed use neighbohoods!  We need YOU to SHOW UP and BE HEARD and BE SEEN:
NY City Hall – Council Chambers
Thursday July 27 @ 9:30 AM
If you are pressed for time or don’t enjoy writing, make it brief and simple. Sending something is better than sending nothing.
Reasons for opposition include:
– drives up rents for local and small business
– displaces small businesses and small shops
– drives out neighborhood amenities (groceries, delis, laundries, dry cleaners, hardware stores) because of high rents that only very large companies can pay
– sets a precedent for approval of MORE big retail in SoHo and lower Manhattan
– causes increased crowding and congestion on sidewalks
– promotes retail events that spill onto sidewalks and streets
– generates noise from deliveries & garbage pick-up
 Free Visits for Practicing Artists at the Judd House/Museum
The Donald Judd Foundation is offering free visits at the Judd House/Museum at 101 Spring Street for practicing artists in New York.

If you are an artist living and working in New York, please contact to book your visit.  Fridays at 11:00am are reserved for free artist visits. Please provide a range of available dates so that the Judd Foundation can best accommodate your preference.

– How Artists Fought to Keep SoHo Rents Affordable – and Why It Matters Today

Here is a link to an engaging and informative editorial in this week’s Artsy that describes the evolution of SoHo from industrial slum to today’s gentrified neighborhood, and the role artists, activists, loft tenants and the Loft Law played in the process. A must read!


Sean Sweeney