Rezoning = Prelliminary Recommendations Summary

After five months of pubic meetings and input from diverse stakeholders, the sponsors of a zoning study will finally present their preliminary recommendations to the public this Thursday evening.  
The sponsor will take feedback from this meeting and present a final report later this summer.
Then the report will go to the community board in October where we will have an opportunity to comment on the final report and the board will also provide its own recommendations.  We fully expect this process to result in a significant change to our current zoning.
So please attend this week’s meeting to provide your voice in shaping the final report on our neighborhood’s future.
Where: Scholastic Building Auditorium, 130 Mercer StreetWhen: 6:00 – 8:15, Thursday, June 13
Please forward this to friends and neighbors who may not be on our list.
To learn more or to comment, visit https://www.envisionsohonoho.nyc

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

VICTORY!!! Verrazano Bridge 2-Way Tolls to be Restored; W Bdwy to Remain Open

Two-way Verrazano Toll to be Restored, Finally; Traffic Volume/Accidents in SoHo to Shrink Dramatically
Jersey City Retailer Withdraws Application to Close W. Bdwy for Loud Rock Band and Promo
****************        

Verrazano Bridge Tolls to be Restored
                    Decades of Activism Pays Off

In 1986, at the behest of Staten Islanders who complained of long lines of cars queuing to pay the tolls on the Verrazano Bridge, Republican congressman Guy Molinari enabled Federal legislation that eliminated the eastbound bridge toll but doubled the toll for westbound traffic
To avoid the double toll, vehicles to New Jersey began using the Holland Tunnel, which is free westbound.  
Within weeks, traffic intended for interstate highways doubled and traffic speeds were cut in half on Broome and Canal Streets. Gridlock and horn-honking became endemic.
Traffic deaths and injuries rose dramatically along Broome, Kenmare and Canal Streets. Millions of dollars in lost MTA tolls were forfeited annually and close to a billion dollars in revenue lost since the one-way toll began. Auto emissions and asthma rates on Canal soon ranked among the worse in the city.  
Immediately the SoHo Alliance sued in State Supreme Court to restore two-way tolls until an environmental impact statement could be formulated.
We did not prevail legally, so we turned to political agitation. We lobbied our Congressman Jerry Nadler for help. We got Senator Schumer involved, to no avail.
We asked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at the height of his influence for assistance. The all-powerful Silver told us we had no chance of restoring the tolls.
We reached out to Transportation Alternatives whose stated goal is to “reclaim city streets from the automobile” and the organization told us the two-way toll would never be restored. 
As long as Republican politicians ruled in Staten Island, we were held hostage to Staten Island NIMBYs.  
None of this stopped us. For decades, the SoHo Alliance made its point never to prevent this inequity from being forgotten.
We demonstrated on Broome Street with Comptroller Scott Stringer.  We badgered the Transportation Department for traffic agents. We buttonholed Nadler and Schumer at every opportunity.
But It took the 2018 elections for a Democrat, Max Rose, to be elected the new Staten Island congressman. 
Nadler recently got his fellow Democrat to agree to a provision in this year’s Appropriations bill to restore the two-way toll. There will no longer be a financial incentive for truckers and motorists to use the Holland Tunnel.
The bill is widely expected to pass but it will take about a year to receive the money and to reconfigure the toll plazas. 
SoHo has finally prevailed after four decades of persistent lobbying and action.  Thanks to all of you who have worked with us on this issue and special thanks to Congressman Nadler for never giving up. 

Jersey City Retailer Withdraws Application to Close West Broadway for Loud Rock Band and Store Promo
Three weeks ago we alerted you to a request by a Jersey City multinational retailer to close down both West Broadway street and sidewalk from 9am to 11:30 pm to promote their SoHo store, along with a live, amplified rock band. Scores of you responded with emails to the community board to nix this silly and intrusive marketing scheme.
The retailer got the message and withdrew the request for closing the street to traffic, withdrew the request for the rock band, and will be satisfied with stanchions to permit pedestrian passage on the sidewalk.
Thanks to all of you who responded.
Sincerely,

Sean Sweeney Director

SoHo Alliance PO Box 429 New York, NY 10012 212-353-8466 info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org
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Jersey City Fashionistas Want to Close Down SoHo

A Jersey City retailer has applied to the City for a permit to:
– fully close the West Broadway street and sidewalk between Broome and Grand Streets on Tuesday, June 11 for an entire day – from 9:00 am until 11:30 pm – invite between “200 to 499” attendees to their “fashion launch”- solicit “celebrities, VIP, media and influencers” (their words, not ours)  to “advertise” and “brand” this start-up business on our public sidewalk and street    – usurp our sidewalks with a “red carpet, rope and/or stanchions” – with a dozen hired security guards to control the expected mob scene – blast out amplified music from a live rock band- construct a “10-foot high speaker tower” to spread the racket all over SoHo- construct “a stage, press platform and scaffolding” to accommodate the band and the publicity event- sell or distribute food and beverages (who cleans up the mess?)
They admit in writing the event will be “LARGE”.  
When asked by the City to summarize their application, the promoters had the chutzpah to declare, in bold: “No conflicts detected.” 
Well let’s change that.
Not only will this publicity stunt be an incredible inconvenience to West Broadway residents and businesses, the effect on Downtown traffic is incalculable.  West Broadway receives not only TriBeCa and Holland Tunnel traffic, but also Greenwich Village traffic back and forth.  Think daylong gridlock.
Closing West Broadway for an entire day will force cars and trucks onto the side streets.  Spring and Prince, Thompson and Sullivan, as well as Wooster, Greene and Mercer all will be part of the congested mess.
What can you do?
The applicant will appear tonight in front of the Quality-of-Life Committee of Community Board 2 at 6:30 at NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, just east of Washington Square Park.   
Please attend to ward off this and any similar future fiascos.  Demand the City reject completely this outrageous proposal.  Bodies count.  (Our apologies for the late notice.  We had an internet outage.)
If you cannot attend, please email your objection to the SoHo Alliance at info@sohoalliance.org and we shall forward your opposition to the City agencies that decide on this application.  
Your statement need not be lengthy.  The more objections the City receives, the more likely it will be to deny this shameless request. Please forward this to your friends and neighbors.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

The Elizabeth Street Garden needs you!

The Elizabeth Street Garden needs you! Attend the City Council hearing on Thursday and speak in OPPOSITION to the Haven Green application that will decimate our garden. 
If you cannot stay for the full hearing, hand in your written statement before you leave. Speaker cards are counted for and against. The number of people who speak on either side of an issue can shift City Council’s position by appealing to members of the committee.

  1. Arrive at 12:30 p.m. to allow time go through security.
  2. Wear green and bring a sign no larger than 8.5 x 11 inches.
  3. Prepare comments up to two minutes long and sign up to speak in opposition.
  4. Bring written testimony (no limit on length) to submit and email a copy to friends@elizabethstreetgarden.org

New York City Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses
Thursday, May 2, 1 p.m. sign-up to testify
New York City Hall, Council Chambers
City Hall Park, New York, NY 10007
Enter at Broadway and Murray Street
By Subway: W/R to City Hall, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall
Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

Two Important Meetings this Week

This Wednesday evening the Land Use Committee of Community Board 2 is hosting an important presentation by the sponsors of the SoHo/NoHo Planning Study.
The idea is to give us an overview of the process, its deliberations, and how the final report and its recommendations will be created. 
Then the community board will issue a resolution outlining the unique features of SoHo and NoHo, summarizing the community board’s current positions on relevant land-use matters, as well as other recommendations.
This is an important meeting to attend.  The community board serves as our voice and carries weight. The land use committee has heard countless applications for SoHo/NoHo Special Permits & Variances and is experienced in the nuances of our zoning.  Let them hear your voice.
Please Forward to Friends & Neighbors
Where: PS 130, 143 Baxter Street, between Grand and Hester, east of Centre StreetWhen: Wednesday, April 10, 6:30
**************************The fourth public meeting of this zoning study takes place the following day, Thursday, April 11 from 6:00 to 8:00.  It will be a bit different than the prior three.
This time the sponsors will actually present ideas and suggestions that have emerged from the previous workshops.  A group discussion will seek to elicit our preferences and priorities, and hear proposals for further recommendations. 
Where: 1 Centre Street at Reade Street, the north wing of the Municipal Building. 
Finally, mark your calendar now. The fifth public meeting will be on May 2 and the topic will be Making Mixed Use Work (tools & strategies)
Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

3rd Zoning Meeting Wed, 3/20

The third public meeting on the proposed rezoning of SoHo/NoHo will take place at 6:00 this Wednesday, March 20 in the north wing of the Municipal Building, 1 Centre Street across from Reade Street.  The subsequent four meetings are also scheduled to be held there: April 11, May 2, June 6. 
Please Forward to Friends & Neighbors.
Wednesday’s meeting will focus on: Living in the Neighborhood; Challenges of Renting/Owning; Future of Housing & Live/Work.  
6:00 – 6:15  Meet & Greet6:15 – 6:40  Presentation by Sponsors6:40 – 7:40  Facilitated Group Discussion7:40 – 8:10  Report Back and Q&A
According to the sponsors, you will be asked to:

  • Share your experiences of living (renting & owning) in SoHo/NoHo
  • Discuss the sponsors’ presentation on SoHo/NoHo’s residential and live/work landscape
  • Consider opportunities for housing affordability and live/work
  • Identify goals for housing and live/work

Below are some bullet points to advocate:

  • Preserve the existing rights and protections for residents, especially those in Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists, JLWQA, (aka A.I.R.) 
  • Maintain the existing FAR (Floor Area Ratio = a measure of density and height limit, based on the floor area)  This will ensure continued low-rise buildings.
  • Retain the Public Review requirement for developments or uses not currently permitted. Developers want this removed.
  • Limit university uses to those allowed under existing zoning.
  • Retain the current 5,000 square-feet maximum for bars and restaurants. (Balthazar is 4,900 square feet, e.g.)
  • Keep the current 1,200 square-feet minimum for residential/JLWQA space.  SoHo/NoHo is renowned for its lofts, not its pieds-a-terre or studio apartments.
  • Keep the existing limits on the maximum allowable size of retail spaces, 10,000 square feet.
  • Maintain the creative character of SoHo and NoHo.

Please do your best to attend. It is important our voices are heard.
Finally, an editorial in last week’s Villager echoed our position on this zoning initiative. Read it here: https://www.thevillager.com/2019/03/editorial-decoding-soho-noho-rezoning/

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

Save SoHo/NoHo Coalition Forms / How You Can Help / Public Meeting Date Changed

– Save SoHo/NoHo Coalition Forms– How You Can Help (see below)- Public Meeting Date Changed = March 20, Wednesday
Please Forward to Friends & Neighbors
The SoHo Alliance has joined the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Broadway Residents Coalition, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, New York City Loft Tenants and the NoHo Neighborhood Association to establish the Save SoHo/NoHo Coalition.
This broad union of residents and small businesses formed in response to the city’s current initiative to rezone our neighborhood. 
It also seeks to give balance to a lobbying bloc of some of the city’s biggest landlords and real-estate investors who are seeking to change our successful zoning for their own ends, as well as a recent NYU study that calls for expansion of classrooms and housing into NoHo (and, by extension, SoHo). 
The Save SoHo/NoHo Coalition presented a list of six basic principles, with more details to follow as the process wends forward:

  • Preserve the existing rights and protections for residents, especially artists and others in Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists, JLWQA, (aka A.I.R.) 
  • Maintain the existing FAR (Floor Area Ratio = a measure of density and height limit, based on floor area)
  • Keep existing limits on the maximum allowable size of retail spaces
  • Retain the Public Review requirement for developments or uses not currently permitted
  • Limit university uses to those allowed under existing zoning
  • Maintain the creative character of SoHo and NoHo

We have also asked that a certified artist be included in the city’s Advisory Group and that the process be extended until at least the fall.
Moreover, it is unsettling that, although hundreds of residents and small business owners took the time and effort to attend the first two public meetings, only a smattering of people from the real-estate industry have bothered to show up to these events.
Since this zoning initiative is the result of pressure from real-estate people and not us, we find it perplexing that the instigators chose to be absent. 
Is it any wonder the SoHo Alliance mailbox has been flooded with emails from you expressing distrust and skepticism, feeling that this current process is really just a touchy-feely attempt to soothe us into thinking we actually have a say in our future?
How You Can HelpWrite your officials, urging them to protect SoHo and NoHo and to support unequivocally our planning principles, not the real-estate lobby’s.Click HERE now to send your message directly to the electeds. It takes but a minute and provides a direct link for your voice to our officials.
**************************************NOTE: The date for the next public meeting on this zoning initiative has been changed to Wednesday, March 20.  An earlier announcement had it set for March 21.
Please mark it in your calendar and join the hundreds of your neighbors who have attended the two prior meetings. Time and place to be announced.

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

NYU Expansion Proposed / 2nd Zoning Meeting Thursday

SoHo Alliance via dme3ds1.com Feb 25, 2019, 8:58 PM (11 hours ago)
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PLEASE FORWARD TO FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
The second public meeting on the proposed SoHo/NoHo rezoning will occur this Thursday, February 28.  
The theme is Defining Mixed-Use (non-residential). There are four other future meetings. Mark the dates on your calendar now: March 20, April 11, May 2, and June 6.
We strongly urge you to attend this and the remaining four public meetings.  
The real-estate lobby has made a call to its people to pack the room, to counter the large number of residents and small businesses at the first meeting. Attend these meetings to show the deBlasio administration that our neighborhood is not for sale.
Doors open from 6:00 to 6:30.A presentation by the organizers will take place from 6:30 to 7:00, followed by a “group discussion” from 7:00 to 7:45A Q&A from 7:45 to 8:15 concludes the event.
The location is the Municipal Building, North building Mezzanine at Centre & Reade Streets.Take the 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge or the R,W to City Hall. See here. Bring ID. 
NYU Expansion ProposedA story in this week’s Villager reports an academic paper by a former City Planning director and commissioned by NYU that argues for increased construction in NoHo – and, by extension, SoHo, since both share identical zoning.  
The NYU professor calls for doubling the permissible bulk and height of buildings on lots along Broadway, Bowery, Houston and Lafayette Streets.
The report also includes these additional zingers, verbatim:– Any floor area that is currently nonresidential, in a building that has no residential units, could be converted to college or university use. (Ready for all those NYU dorms, folks?)
– New York University largely stays west of Broadway. This major university has a limited presence in Noho, though it would seem to be an ideal area for the university to expand.

– The area’s peculiar zoning, combined with historic district controls, effectively keeps out many of the land uses that would, on economic rationales alone, wish to locate there. (The real-estate industry must be salivating at that argument.)
Since NYU is one of the nineteen participants in the City Planning’s Advisory Group and since this obscure academic report was drawn up last year, don’t you find it intriguing that it was released to the public in the midst of the current zoning discussion?

 
Massive NYU developments like 181 Mercer Street at Houston Street, below, currently under construction, have stayed west of Broadway due to “zoning gridlock,” the NYU author argues.

Sincerely,

SoHo Alliance PO Box 429 New York, NY 10012

Sean SweeneyDirector

212-353-8466

info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org
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Benjamin Yee for Public Advocate

People have reached out to the SoHo Alliance asking whom are we endorsing for Public Advocate in the special election this Tuesday February 26. The Alliance is nonpartisan and does not endorse.  
However, our friends and neighbors in the Downtown Independent Democrats reform club (DID), a founding member of the SoHo Alliance, have endorsed Benjamin Yee for Public Advocate.
You may not have heard of Ben. That’s a good sign.  
Most of the recognizable candidates are politicians either being term-limited out in two years or else are using the public advocate office as a stepping stone to advance their careers. (The public advocate office is seen as a stepping stone for mayor.)
Some of these candidates are worthwhile. For example, DID endorsed Jumaane Williams for the state lieutenant-governor office last year. 
However, the public advocate office is special. It is not a legislative or executive office. Rather, it serves as an ombudsman to investigate the public’s complaints against maladministration by public authorities.
Benjamin Yee is not a politician  He is a community and political activist who wants to engage government and so improve democracy.

Over the last two years, Ben has run free civic workshops, like Real Politics 101 and Organizing 101, training over 4,000 New Yorkers to become engaged and be heard as local block captains, community board members, and members of housing associations.  

96% of Ben’s donations are from small-dollar donors — the most of any candidate in this race. And Ben is the only candidate with ZERO high dollar donors from outside New York City. (Some of his opponents have nearly half of their big ticket donations from outside the city.) 

Ben lives in the East Village and serves as your local NYS Democratic State Committee member, representing SoHo, NoHo, TriBeCa and parts of the Village. He serves as an active member of the DID executive committee.
Son of a Polish Jew and a Chinese-American, Yee studied at Bronx Science, University of Michigan and the London School of Economics. He is a tech entrepreneur who served as digital director for the 2008 New York State Obama campaign. As current secretary of the Manhattan County Democratic Committee, Benjamin created their website, the first ever for a Democratic County party in NYC.
Ben is unbought and unbossed. I have seen Ben in action — he is the kind of activist and advocate this city needs.

Click on Ben’s website to learn more, or hear him explain his candidacy in this impressive youtube video.PLEASE FORWARD TO FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo AlliancePO Box 429New York, NY 10012212-353-8466info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

Breaking News

A consortium of landlords and developers has formed to advocate for major zoning changes in SoHo and NoHo. More here.

 
The Fix SoHo NoHo Coalition is comprised of seven firms, including a number of large property owners such as Himmel + Meringoff, Vornado, Aurora Capital, Crown Acquisitions and Olmstead Properties, along with attorney Margaret Baisley,
They claim the zoning is not working.  For them.

From Himmel+Meringoff’s websiteHimmel + Meringoff Properties is a privately held New York real estate investment company dedicated to the acquisition and creation of value in opportunistic equity investments.  At least they are honest: opportunistic.
Vornado is a real estate investment trust, a REIT publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It owns scores of properties across the country. Some of its New York holdings include One Penn Plaza, Hotel Pennsylvania, and the lease on the World Trade Center.  The Real Deal, a real-estate news site, describes Crown Acquisitions as “a major owner and developer of retail properties focusing on large redevelopment projects where it helps to add value before the company and its partners sell the assets.”  In other words, take the money and run.

Aurora Capital obliterated an entire block face in the Gansevoort Market Historic District to capitalize on its investment there. It is invested in 600 Broadway at Houston Street, where it rents 38,000 square feet to Hollister. However, zoning laws only permit a maximum of 10,000 square feet of retail there. The law doesn’t seem to deter Aurora.
Margaret Baisley is a Brooklyn real estate lawyer who filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of SoHo landlord with interests in several SoHo properties. The landlord tried to evict a certified working artist, Robert Seidman, his wife Patti, and their two daughters, the last rent-stabilized tenants in his building, on the grounds that he wanted to give their apartment to his family, a loophole the law permits. Forget the fact the family was not living in the United States.

The judge sided with the Seidmans, saying he could not evict a conforming tenant, the artist, for a non-conforming tenant, the businessman.
The attorney who would have this family of four evicted onto a Broadway sidewalk is the same attorney belonging to the Fix SoHo NoHo Coalition.  Nice.
These real estate investors are not what SoHo/NoHo has traditionally witnessed; that is, small building owners, longtime family-owned real-estate businesses, shareholders in small retail stores, or condo/coop property owners.  No. These are behemoth real-estate investment firms, whose sole purpose is to create wealth for their principals and who have no roots or interest in a community’s well-being or future prosperity.
These opportunists have been compared to predatory strip-mining companies that come into some small Appalachian town, strip the land bare, and, after plundering the community, move on to some other town to ravage. These are the last people who should have a say in SoHo/NoHo’s future. Will the city agree to their demands?
PLEASE FORWARD TO FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429New York, NY 10012
212-353-8466
info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

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