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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FAQs and Talking Points


In response to numerous inquiries, we provide you some Frequently Asked Questions and Talking Points for the first public meeting on the proposed SoHo/NoHo rezoning this Wednesday, February 6.
The city has embarked on an initiative that likely will result in changes to SoHo/NoHo’s current zoning – and it wants your input.  Our neighborhoods’ future depends on you.  
FAQs: How is SoHo/NoHo currently zoned? SoHo/NoHo is zoned for light manufacturing, a general term including joint live/work quarters for artists, offices, hardware stores, design and furniture showrooms, hotels, professional photographic services, bicycle repair shops, sporting goods stores, fabricators, to list a few.
What areas are covered by the zoning? For this initiative, SoHo refers to the area between Houston and Canal Streets, stretching from West Broadway to Lafayette/Centre Streets.   NoHo refers to the area from Houston Street to Astor Place, from Broadway to the Bowery.
SoHo/NoHo’s zoning map is further divided into two districts, 5A and 5B.   5A is basically the area from Houston to Broome and from West Broadway to Mercer Street.   5B occupies the remainder of the SoHo/NoHo district.  See the map below for details.
What’s the difference between 5A and 5B? In 5A, retail use is permitted “as-of-right”, that is, without the need for a Special Permit or Variance.  (This goes back to the 1970s, when there was already a retail presence in that part of SoHo.  So the city “grandfathered” these retailers.)  In 5B, retail use is not permitted as-of-right.
Why is there so much retail currently in 5B, if that use is not permitted? A few spaces were grandfathered prior to the zoning.  Others received Special Permits or Variances.  However, many are operating there in violation of the zoning.
How can I learn more about zoning, planning and land use? Visit the Department of City Planning’s website

TALKING POINTS:– Do you want expansion of retail uses in the 5B district?  
– Do you want enforcement of the current regulations?
– If retail use is permitted In 5B, what size retail should be allowed?   In the 5A district, the maximum is 3,600 sq.ft. currently.In the 5B district, the maximum is 10,000 sq.ft. currently.– Do you want these limits enlarged, reduced, or to remain the same?

Many Broadway residents are kept awake at night by deliveries to the megastores? – How can the city amend the zoning to mitigate this problem?
Residents complain of certain retail stores with jumbo LED display signs projecting into their homes all night. – Should there be restrictions on bright display signs after closing time?
Currently, eating and drinking establishments are limited to 5,000 sq.ft. (e.g., Balthazar is 4,900 sq.ft)Some property owners who are seeking to expand retail are also calling for more bars and restaurants in order to make SoHo/NoHo more “vibrant” after work hours.– Would you like to see limits on this type of use, which often proves problematic to adjacent residential neighbors? – Should the 5,000 sq.ft. limit for eating and drinking establishments be reduced, increased, or remain the same?
Some commercial property owners are renting to private clubs or work spaces on the upper floors of buildings, where alcohol is served well into the night, causing problems for their neighbors – Do you wish to see restrictions on such party operations on the upper floors?
Artists and residents: In buildings built prior to 2005, strictly speaking, every household should have at least one artist certified by the Department of Cultural Affairs or else have a resident grandfathered there before 1987.
Many people complain that the artist certification process is arbitrary and capricious. 
Others say the idea of an artists colony here is anachronistic. Most SoHo/NoHo residents are not certified artists.  Yet not a single person has ever been forced out due to lack of artists certification.
On the other hand, this zoning provision has prevented the unfair eviction of several working artists and their families. Read one dramatic story from The Villager here.  

So how do we preserve the tenancy of working artists in SoHo/NoHo, particularly the elderly, yet make SoHo/NoHo open to others?  The arts were the foundation of SoHo/NoHo and the reason many non-artists moved here.  It is a complicated issue and no solution has yet been found to this thorny question.– What do you think should be done to resolve this dilemma?
Do not forget the Law of Unintended Consequences.– What impact will rezoning have on real-estate taxes and other financial ramifications for both co-op and condo owners as well as loft tenants?
These are some of the questions and ideas you should consider.
WHERE: PS 130, 143 Baxter Street between Grand and Hester Streets, a block south of the Police Building west of Centre StreetWHEN: Wednesday, February 6, 6:15 – 8:00 p.m.

Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

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

Rezone Soho/Noho, or just enforce current laws?

Local politicians and residents chanted demonstrated outside the Department of Buildings at 280 Broadway in November 2016, calling on D.O.B. and Mayor de Blasio to properly interpret and enforce Soho/Noho’s retail restrictions under the area’s manufacturing zoning. File photo

BY GABE HERMAN | The first meeting in the public-engagement process being held to explore possible rezoning efforts in Soho and Noho will be held on Wed., Feb. 6.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 130, at 143 Baxter St., between Hester and Grand Sts.

The process was launched by the Department of City Planning, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin. The six-month effort will include a number of “public sessions to hear from the local community on topics including housing, jobs, retail and creative industries,” according to a statement.

“The unique nature and vital role which the Soho/Noho neighborhoods play in our city’s economy and daily life necessitate a close examination,” Chin said in a statement to The Villager. “In particular, my office will want to look at the complex interplay between retail and housing interests in Soho and Noho. I look forward to engaging with community activists, business leaders and residents as we build a bold vision.”

Zoning was specifically mentioned in statements by Brewer and City Planning Director Marisa Lago.

Lago said, in part, “Like all neighborhoods, Soho and Noho face unique challenges, not the least of which is outdated zoning.”

Brewer said the area’s zoning definitely is need of a “fix.”

“The Soho/Noho area has a rich, vibrant history, but we need to fix its zoning to lay the foundation for its future,” she said. “As the old rules have stopped working, the area has seen a steady march of special exemptions, one-off variances and inappropriately large retail uses.”

But Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, said it wasn’t a matter of the old rules not working — but the city failing to enforce the existing laws.

He cited the Bloomingdale’s at 504 Broadway, which opened in 2004 with six floors. When Sweeney contacted City Planning about the store exceeding the neighborhood’s 10,000-square-foot maximum for retail, he said he was told, “Forget about it. You can’t fight Bloomingdale’s.”

Sweeney said local zoning infractions over the years have included two developers being allowed by the Board of Standards and Appeals to overbuild on parking lots by 50 percent. He said the developers were each granted a “hardship variance,” after claiming they had made a bad real estate deal in buying the lots.

And he said Soho was designated for wholesale uses in the 1970s and ’80s before the Department of Buildings allowed retail stores to be grandfathered in based on businesses submitting “bogus evidence” of past retail existing at those locations.

“When they say it’s broken, it’s because the city broke it purposely by design and by negligence over the last 30 years,” said Sweeney, who has lived in Soho since 1977.

The Soho Alliance is one of the local groups consulting on the project, which will culminate in a report expected this summer. Sweeney said there is concern that the current way in which big retail stores are allowed to slip in will be formalized and legalized by the current process.

“We don’t want the zoning to change, we want enforcement,” Sweeney said.

There is also worry that artist-resident protections enacted in 1971 may be removed. Sweeney said that City Planning in 1983 tried to remove the joint living-working quarters for artists (J.L.W.Q.A.) law that requires every unit to have at least one resident who has been certified as an artist by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Community pushback defeated that 1983 effort, yet the law is not enforced. However, Sweeney said he is O.K. with that situation because at least have the regulation on the books, legally prevents artists from being kicked out of the neighborhood.

Yukie Ohta, of the Soho Memory Project, said she is not part of the advisory group on the rezoning initiative but has spoken with many locals and heard conflicting opinions of whether rezoning is needed or just some smaller tweaks.

“We need to create a more workable mixed-use neighborhood with fewer conflicting uses,” she said. “From a resident’s perspective, this means reasonable restrictions for retail establishments.

“This also means enforcement of protections to ensure current residents are not priced out of their homes through rising maintenance costs and taxes.”

Ohta said longtime Soho residents need to be considered, including those who were involved in helping create the 1971 artist protections.

“They have the long view of the evolution of Soho and should have a place at the table in this go-around,” she said of the neighborhood veterans. “In short, the needs of all stakeholders need to be equally considered and protected.”

SoHo/NoHo Zoning Update

– If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!– February 6th Public Meeting Still in Limbo
PLEASE FORWARD TO FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
Two weeks ago we notified you of the SoHo/NoHo Advisory Group, an initiative formed by the Department of City Planning, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin. Ostensibly the group’s purpose was to study whether our zoning and land-use policies are working, and, if not, what should be done — if anything.  
Public records reveal that a mere “study” is not really the intended scenario. 
A June 20, 2018 press release quotes City Planning Chair Marissa Lago, “If there is one thing that everybody agrees on, it’s that the current zoning in SoHo, NoHo is broken. It just doesn’t work.”  That doesn’t sound like a study, does it?  It sounds like a declaration of intent, besides begging the question: is our zoning actually broken in the first place? 
Let’s look at the record. At one time SoHo was a derelict slum, slated to be bulldozed by Robert Moses to make way for a massive expressway. SoHo activists helped stop that plan and in 1971 persuaded the city to amend the zoning law to permit artists to live/work in their lofts, to allow retail use in much of the district, and to permit exceptions to retail restrictions via Special Permits that allow for public review of what uses should be granted developers.  Subsequent amendments have only improved upon that.  
As a result, SoHo has blossomed into a world-class residential and retail neighborhood, attracting millions of people worldwide and bringing countless millions, if not billions, in real-estate and retail tax dollars to the city coffers.

But City Planning and real-estate interests claim our zoning is broken.  Really?
 Today SoHo has – a retail real-estate market with an average asking rent of $595/sq.ft. the second highest in the city & tenth in the nation
– an average homes sales price of $2,374/sq.ft. — more than double the Manhattan average– among the highest home prices in the country with a median residential sales price of $2.995 million – a four-bedroom apartment at 150 Wooster selling for $32.584 million
Does that sound broken to you — or does that sound like an extraordinary success story? 
Is City Planning conducting a “study” as we were told, or is rezoning a fait accompli?  The truth has come out.  Councilmember Chin in a January 18 constituent newsletter headlined what we had suspected, “We begin the SoHo/NoHo rezoning.”  So the city has been disingenuous with us, not a good way to foster trust in this important arena. 
Who has been pushing this rezoning?  Not us or any other community group.  Quite the contrary.  All we have asked is that the current successful zoning be enforced, particularly the 10,000 square-feet limit for retail use that is blatantly violated by several stores along Broadway. 
For example, when Bloomingdale’s opened its 50,000 square-feet, five-story emporium in clear violation of the 10,000 square-feet retail limit, we complained to City Planning. Its representative’s verbatim response was, “You can’t fight Bloomingdale’s.”  If City Planning believes that our zoning is not working, it has only itself to blame.
It appears that a main push to rezone comes from REBNY, the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade association that lobbies on behalf of the real estate industry and whose leadership includes some of the biggest developers in the city.  
On page 56 of its 2018 Annual Report, REBNY reveals that it has “worked with the SoHo Broadway Business Improvement District {BID} on forward-thinking solutions for the area…and has met with city officials on this issue.” 
It is not reassuring that city officials have met in 2018 with REBNY lobbyists, but not with a single SoHo/NoHo resident or small business.
What would REBNY want?  For starters, how about: – an increase in bulk and height for new and existing buildings – oversized big-box stores, unbridled retail uses, more annoying pop-up store events- higher rents  – erosion of landmarks protection- removal of protection for loft tenants and artist residents, many of whom still reside here despite ill-informed media reports to the contrary- introduction of pieds-à-terre and small studio apartments which would deflate our existing co-op and condo values
 In fact, a pro-development group at last week’s Community Board 2 meeting had the audacity to propose, “Build on top of all those 5-story buildings in SoHo.” So this is what we are up against.   
If you cherish our community, if you do not want more shoppers congesting our neighborhood, if owners want to maintain their property values and renters to maintain their tenants’ rights, we strongly urge you to attend the first public meeting on February 6.
The city is not making the community’s job easy.  Its website to educate us on its plans Is still “Under Construction” although this initiative has been talked about for years. Why is the public being left in the dark?
Furthermore, although the first public meeting is scheduled for February 6, so far City Planning has sent out no public notices of the event, no agenda has been set, no format established, nor even a location and time announced, although it will likely be in the evening.  As soon as we get more information, we shall notify you, since obviously you cannot rely on City Planning to keep you in the loop.

Sincerely,
Sean SweeneyDirector

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

Advisory Board Meetings

Last month the City signaled the formation of an Advisory Board to examine our neighborhood’s current zoning and land-use policies.  
 
Its first meeting was held last Thursday at the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.  She, along with Councilmember Margaret Chin and Department of City Planning Chair Marisa Lago, are the initiators of this study.  At first we were unsure who was pushing it.
 
City Planning over several mayoral administrations has sought to amend our zoning. Some proposals we have embraced; others we have rejected (successfully).  
 
Borough President Brewer has a record of sensitivity toward community concerns.  And although we have had issues with Councilmember Chin’s land-use policies in the past, of late she has been more supportive. So we are going into this with a constructive attitude.
 
There will be several more Advisory Board meetings throughout the winter and spring, as well as several Public Meetings and Topical Workshops open to everyone.  We strongly urge you to attend these public meetings and workshops. Your opinions and suggestions are paramount.
 
There will be two of these public events in February: a Public Meeting – Open House on the evening of February 6 and a Topical Workshop on February 28 evening.  Please reserve the dates. The exact time and location will be announced shortly.  
 
Below are the participants of the Advisory Board, representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders, several of whom are very sympathetic to community concerns.
  • Broadway Residents Coalition 
  • Cooper Square Committee 
  • Cooper Union
  • Council Speaker Corey Johnson
  • Council Member Carlina Rivera
  • Landmarks Conservancy
  • Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
  • Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
  • Manhattan Community Board 2
  • New York University 
  • NoHo Business Improvement District 
  • NoHo-Bowery Stakeholders 
  • NoHo Neighborhood Association
  • NYC Loft Tenants 
  • Real Estate Board of New York 
  • SoHo Alliance
  • SoHo Broadway Initiative (BID)
  • SoHo Design District
Sincerely,
 
Sean Sweeney
Director
 
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012
 
212-353-8466