City Planning Announces SoHo/NoHo Study

This week the Department of City Planning is expected to announce the formation of an Advisory Board to participate in a planning study of SoHo and NoHo’s current zoning.  Both neighborhoods share the same land-use regulations.
The SoHo Alliance has been invited to the table. This is significant since the Alliance has long served as the guardian of our successful zoning.  
The SoHo Artists Association (which later evolved into the SoHo Alliance) partnered with City Planning in 1971 to enact the current zoning policies.  
It later worked with the agency to amend the zoning laws several times, for instance, to restrict night clubs — one reason our neighborhood has never devolved into the Meatpacking District.  
In 2005 the Alliance again collaborated with City Planning on an amendment to permit the construction of new residential buildings.  Prior to that, residency was limited to converted buildings only.
We have the knowledge, experience and history to play a significant role in this study,
There will be eighteen other players involved as well, including local elected officials, the community board, other local neighborhood, tenant and cultural associations, as well as representatives from the real estate and retail fields.    
The idea is to study whether the current zoning is working, needs tweaking, requires a complete overhaul or should be left alone.  We are not quite sure who is pushing this. 
There will be monthly meetings of the Advisory Board starting in January and lasting four to seven months.  A report should be out by summer.
We shall keep you abreast of developments.
Sean Sweeney
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012
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Rally Today for Elizabeth St Garden * Monthly Police Neighborhood Meeting Wed * SoHo Memory Project Launch Party

Rally Today for Elizabeth St Garden * Monthly Police Neighborhood Meeting Wed * SoHo Memory Project Launch Party
Rally Today for Elizabeth Street Garden
Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has sent a notice demanding removal of all of the statuary and sculpture in our Elizabeth Street Garden, effectively destroying this treasure before any official determination of the City’s plan for development has been reached.  
Today our community will rally to speak out against the destruction of one of the city’s most beautiful and tranquil gardens.
The rally is from 2 to 4 pm at Elizabeth Street Garden, between Spring and Prince Streets. Bring friends, bring signs and make our voices heard.

Monthly Police Neighborhood Meeting Wednesday
NYPD has initiated a new program, Neighborhood Policing, a return to the “cop on the beat.”  You may have seen more foot patrols walking the streets recently.
As part of the program, our neighborhood officers meet monthly with us in SoHo to identify and solve local quality-of-life and crime concerns.  They want to hear from you about what it will take to make us feel safe and secure.
When Wednesday, November 7.  Doors open at 6:00 for refreshments and the meeting begins at 6:30.
Where: Scholastic, 130 Mercer Street, 12th Floor
If you wish to be put on the email reminder list for future meetings, please email the neighborhood coordination officer in charge of the SoHo sector, Michael Erdman 
at He can also be reached on his mobile at 929-287-9659 or office at 212-334-6462.
SoHo Memory Project Launch Party
The SoHo Memory Project is a delightful and informative website and traveling exhibition that documents the cultural, social, political, and urban history of SoHo. If you haven’t visited it, do so now at
The Memory Project will host a party to celebrate the launch of its new reimagined and redesigned website. 
The website’s documentation spans the course of SoHo from colonial times to the present, with focus placed on the decades between 1960-1980 when SoHo was a thriving artists’ community.
Join your neighbors at this fun and informative event. Space is limited, so rsvp here
When: Thursday, November 8, 6:00 – 8:00 
Where: Artist & Fleas, 568 Broadway at Prince
Sean Sweeney
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012

Elizabeth Street Garden Update: de Blasio Picks “Developer” to Destroy Garden

Elizabeth Street Garden Update: de Blasio Picks “Developer” to Destroy Garden; Community Hires Lawyer to Save It
Shake-up at Landmarks: Preservationists Demand Chair Resign; She Quits a Week Later
Infrastructure Projects This Week in SoHo
Elizabeth Street Garden Update
– de Blasio Picks “Developer” to Destroy Garden
The de Blasio administration is pushing forward with its plan to destroy our Elizabeth Street Garden.  
As soon as last year’s election was over, the city selected a development team to build a 7-story residential building where the Garden now stands – despite our community’s need for open space and despite widespread opposition from local residents and businesses, most elected officials, and numerous environmental groups.  
Community Board 2 is hosting a hearing with these developers on June 25.  We need to show them that our community has spoken and we want to save Elizabeth Street Garden as it is!  Be sure to attend.  Bring signs.  Wear Green.  Don’t be fooled by fancy names and pretty renderings. Once the bulldozers come, our green oasis will be another paltry concrete slab with benches.
When: Monday, June 25, 6:30 pm
Where: NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 520
Community Retains Noted Attorney
After consultation with several lawyers, Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden the main group spearheading this struggle, decided there was sound legal basis for a challenge to the city’s decision to develop the Garden into residences.   
The space had originally accommodated a school that was demolished in the 1970s.  The land where the Garden now stands was promised as community recreational space when the adjacent Section 8 housing on Spring Street was built in 1981.  Housing on the green space was never intended to be in the picture.
After interviewing several attorneys, Friends has retained Michael Gruen, an experienced land-use lawyer with a proven track record litigating against New York City and State governmental entities. Gruen is president of the City Club, a good governance organization that recently won two important land-use cases — Pier 55 and Flushing Meadows.
In the Pier 55 litigation, after the City Club’s major victory in federal court, NYC Parks management agreed to protect the Hudson River from environmental damage and Governor Cuomo committed to “work cooperatively to complete the full vision” for Hudson River Park.  For Flushing Meadows, the City Club’s litigation successfully blocked the development of a proposed shopping mall near Citi Field. 
Friends’ legal team has developed strong legal strategies based on compliance with the history of the Garden site and environmental law.  
Help save our garden.  Please donate to the Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden Legal Defense Fund here
– Shake-up at Landmarks: Preservationists Demand Chair Resign; She Quits a Week Later
You may recall that in March we asked you to attend a public hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission to oppose the agency’s proposal to remove many applications for changes to buildings in historic districts from public review and instead have commission staffers decide the merits – without any public hearing. This was contrary to over fifty years of commission policy.
The proposal was the brainchild of the commission’s chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, whose policies and decisions were viewed by many as being extraordinarily accommodating to developers’ requests.
The public hearing was packed with preservationists who roundly spoke out against Srinavasan’s latest proposal.  When one activist demanded that Srinavasan resign, the audience erupted in loud applause.  A week later she unexpectedly resigned, with no explanation given. 
Needless to say, the commission announced that it is withdrawing its proposal, meaning we shall again be able to express our opinion to the city on important preservation issues instead of having them decided for us behind closed doors. 
– Infrastructure Projects This Week
The NYC Office of Design and Construction has announced plans for several projects in SoHo this coming week that may cause some inconvenience and parking problems.
Starting Monday, June 3 through Friday June 8, from 7am to 6pm, utility relocation work, specifically electric layout work, will be going on at West Broadway between Canal and Grand Streets.   There will also be catch basin Installation and utility work being performed during the same time at Howard and Crosby Streets.  Expect parking to be restricted.
Also be advised that Greene Street between Spring Street and Prince Street will be closed to vehicular traffic due to a crane operation at 103 Greene Street on June 9 & 10 and 16 & 17, from 8am to 6pm Saturday and 9am to 6pm Sunday,
Sean Sweeney
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012

– Public Artwork Saved, Street Closings

– Public Artwork Saved
Public art and SoHo’s cultural heritage received a shot in the arm last week from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, when it rejected a request to remove artist Bill Tarr’s steel sculptural door from in front of 102 Greene Street.  The building’s owner sought to replace the sculpture with a display window for a new boutique. The door has been in place for over 45 years, even prior to SoHo’s Landmarks designation in 1973
Bill Tarr was a pioneering SoHo artist and owned the building at the time of the sculpture’s installation. His works include the Martin Luther King Memorial at 122 Amsterdam Avenue near Lincoln Center, as well as the bronze casting “Gates of Hell” at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.  His sculptures have been displayed at the Whitney Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Saving this site-specific work preserves a portion of the historic fabric reflective of the development of the SoHo Cast-Iron Historic District, its cultural past, and is a prominent artifact of SoHo’s artistic streetscape.
The SoHo Alliance submitted testimony in support of preserving the artwork and the Landmarks chair noted that publicly.  The preservation effort was spearheaded by the Broadway Residents Coalition.
– Lower Greene / Upper Mercer Closures Announced
To accommodate a large crane needed in the ongoing construction at 11 Greene Street, Greene Street between Canal and Grand will be intermittently closed to vehicular traffic during the day for a month starting Saturday, January 27 through February 26, seven days a week. Alternative routes include West Broadway or Sixth Avenue.
Mercer Street between Houston and Prince Streets will also be closed during the day to vehicular traffic on February 3 and 4, with rain dates of February 10 and 11.  This also is to accommodate a crane used in the construction of 151 Mercer Street.
Any questions regarding these street closures should be addressed to the permit expediter, whose contact information is shown on the Closure Notifications attached at the bottom of this email.
Sean Sweeney
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012
2 Attachments:

– Street Cleaning Begins

– Street Cleaning Begins

– $60,000 Council Grant Secured
– 32+ New Litter Baskets Purchased
– Clean Up SoHo Announces Launch Party, Sunday, December 10
Dear Beat,
We are pleased to announce that street-cleaning services have returned to SoHo after a year’s hiatus.  Additionally, dozens of new, improved, extra-capacity litter baskets will be appearing next week on a corner near you – all thanks to independent community activism.
When ACE stopped sweeping our sidewalks last November, a grassroots group of residents and businesses, Clean Up SoHo, formed to restore the services we had come to expect.
Although many people were involved in this effort, special kudos must go to Dianne Mendez of SoHo Salon and to Danielle Nazinitsky of Soho Strut. Working with the SoHo Alliance, we have achieved a first for New York City – a community improvement district instead of the usual unwieldy Business Improvement District (BID) model.
First, Clean Uo SoHo launched an education campaign to encourage stores and buildings to sweep their sidewalks regularly, as required by law.  The Department of Sanitation is beginning to issue violations to offenders.
Next we secured initial financial pledges from several individuals, coops, condos, and retail spaces.
However, our real achievement came with a $60,000 grant from the New York City Council via the office of Councilmember Margaret Chin.  We are very grateful for the councilmember’s assistance in funding our clean-up efforts.  SoHo generates incredible revenue for the city in the form of sales and real-estate taxes.  It is gratifying to see some of it come back our way.
Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose district extends westwards from the west side of Thompson Street, also secured council funds to purchase several oversized litter baskets for Prince and Spring Streets, as well as paying for street cleaning at Father Fagan Square on Sixth Avenue. (Incidentally, the park is undergoing restoration which is expected to be completed by January.)
With the $60,000 from Councilmember Chin on hand, Clean Uo SoHo interviewed several non-profit cleaning services.  We selected Wildcat, a 501-c3 nonprofit that provides job opportunities, vocational training, and other resources for struggling New Yorkers seeking to become economically independent.  Incidentally, Wildcat’s estimate was a fraction of ACE’s proposal.
Wildcat began emptying and bagging our litter baskets in early November and you will see its workers in their green overalls, as well as its green plastic bags lining our corner trash bins. Services extend from Mercer Street to Thompson Street, Houston to Canal.
Furthermore, Clean Up SoHo launched a campaign to purchase dozens of oversized litter baskets for our street corners, the sturdy green ones often found in business improvement districts, replacing the flimsy mesh baskets that the city provides.
Over a dozen folk responded and we are delighted to announce that the first batch of eighteen baskets has been approved by the Sanitation Department with a second batch of ten awaiting approval.  The first batch will arrive the first week of December.
First Batch of 18 – Approved by DSNY and Ordered
  1. CBRE – 2 Baskets
  2. Goldman Properties – 1 Basket
  3. 60 Guilders – 6 Baskets
  4. Premier Equities & SoHo Alliance – 8 Baskets
  5. Bloomingdale’s – 1 Basket
Second Batch of 10 – Submitted to DSNY for Approval
  1. Art & Lynn Schnitzer – 1 Basket
  2. Wooster House – 1 Basket
  3. ASB Real Estate – 1 Basket
  4. Greene Street Holding – 1 Basket
  5. 35 Wooster Street – 1 Basket
  6. Joan & Marc Sherman – 2 Baskets
  7. 210 Lafayette – 2 Baskets
  8. 456-8 Broome Street – 1 Basket
Third Batch of 4 – Sponsorship Submitted
  1. 515 Broadway Corp. – 2 Baskets
  2. Elyssa Ackerman – 2 Baskets
A half dozen other individuals and businesses have also expressed interest in sponsorship.
If you, your building or your business would like information on how to sponsor a basket, please email  The cost is $1,500 and the basket will have a plaque with the name of the sponsor and a message encouraging a clean SoHo.
Continued Fundraising Required
However, the city council’s $60,000 will only pay for a few months of cleaning service. Now that we have set up the machinery, we strongly urge you or your building to contribute to Clean Up SoHo.
People have asked what is an appropriate amount.   It depends, but we suggest a Dollar-A-Day from each individual or unit, or $365 a year.  So a ten-unit building might decide to give $3650 annually, which is tax-deductible. But whatever can be afforded is welcomed.
Our goal is to have 100 new, oversized litter baskets in SoHo and an annual fundraising campaign of $100,000 for supplemental street cleaning!
There is talk afoot to create a Business Improvement District (BID) for SoHo. That would be terrible. Not only would it give undue influence to its small board of directors, it could result in increased property taxes up to $10 million dollars.
The BID on Broadway has requested a budget increase to $900,000 annually.  That’s just for Broadway.  Multiply that amount by the other dozen or so streets that comprise SoHo and you get an approximate $10 million dollar property tax increase to pay not only for street-cleaning but also for the salaries of the BID employees and its offices.
Considering the increased number of empty stores and pop-ups, can SoHo retail and property owners afford the kind of tax burden BIDs create?  Do residents want to cede power to a corporate structure most of whose members do not live here or care for residents’ concerns?
A tax-deductible contribution to Clean Up SoHo now may save you a lot more in taxes later on, while keeping our neighborhood a desirable place to live and work.
To contribute, please contact and/or
Finally, Clean Up SoHo Announces a Launch Party. The festive event is scheduled for Sunday, December 10 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at Ray Ban, 116 Wooster Street.  Local residents, business owners and stakeholders are invited for the open house to learn more about the project and to continue our momentum. Tickets are free but you must RSVP to
Sean Sweeney
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012

SoHo Alliance is non-partisan

SoHo Alliance is non-partisan. That is why our members are supporting Christopher Marte for City Council on the Independence Party line this Tuesday, November 7.
In the September Democratic primary election, 54% of Democratic voters soundly rejected Margret Chin.  She received just 48% of the Democratic vote, with Marte coming in a close second at 46% – a mere 222 vote difference out of 11,000 cast.  Two other anti-Chin candidates drained the remaining 10% anti-Chin vote.
But fate was with us.  On the Independence Party line, Chin received five write-in votes but Marte received six!  This stroke of fortune secured Marte a ballot line in the Tuesday election.  It also gives us a second chance to vote Chin out and to vote in this fresh, energetic and unbought candidate.
So ANY voter, regardless of party registration, can vote for Christopher Marte on Tuesday.  If Democrats or Republican partisans feel uncomfortable about voting on a third-party line, they can always write in Marte’s name on the blank line.
Both local Reform political clubs, the Downtown Independent Democrats and the Village Reform Democrats, have endorsed Marte, since Democratic voters clearly don’t want Chin.  Marte has also been endorsed by the Asian-American Democratic Club and the Stonewall Vets Democratic Club.
So Chin is running scared.  So scared, she has aligned herself with a one-man political show from Chelsea, far outside our district.  This operative is noted for his smear tactics, dirty tricks and pay-for-play culture.  Chin’s Chelsea operative has mailed flyers to SoHo voters with absurdist claims that a vote for Christopher Marte on the Independence line is akin to a vote for Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani.  Ignore him. Yes indeed, Chin is running scared.
Turnout in the 2013 mayoral election was 24%. This year it is expected to be significantly lower.  Turnout was only about 11% in the September primary.  So YOUR VOTE Tuesday can count tremendously for SoHo.  Polls are open from 6am to 9pm.  For information on Christopher Marte, visit
If you cannot vote on Tuesday, you can vote absentee on Monday, November 6 at the Board of Elections office on 200 Varick Street just south of Houston Street.  Bring ID.
If unsure of your polling place, visit
Sean Sweeney
Executive Director
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012

– Chin v. Marte Part 2 = Marte on the November Ballot Against Chin – SoHo’s Next State Senator Picked by Two Party Bosses in the Backroom of Junior’s Cheesecake Restaurant – How Cheesy Is That?

– Chin v. Marte Part 2 = Marte on the November Ballot Against Chin
– SoHo’s Next State Senator Picked by Two Party Bosses in the Backroom of Junior’s Cheesecake Restaurant  – How Cheesy Is That?
Our Updates usually do not focus on political news.  However, since the September Primary, important events have been unfolding so dramatically and so rapdily that it is time for a review.
– Chin v. Marte Part 2
After two weeks of counting absentee and paper ballots, Margaret Chin squeaked to a narrow victory over Chris Marte, 45.8% to 43.9%, less than a 2% margin.  Two other opponents of Chin siphoned the remaining 10.3% of the anit-Chin vote, drawing votes from Marte that would surely have put him over the top.
With 11,719 votes cast, Marte was only 220 votes shy of victory.  Chin’s “victory” is the worst showing of any incumbent in the city.  Over 54% of the voters – the majority – rejected Chin.   But that is not the end of the story.
By the oddest fortuitous fluke, six people wrote-in Marte’s name on the Independence Party line and five wrote-in Chin’s.
Without campaigning for it, Chris Marte has secured the Independence Party line in the general election on November 7.  We now have a second chance to choose between Marte and Chin.
Marte’s name will be down the ballot under the Independence line, while Chin is running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines.  There will also be Republican and Liberal Party candiates.
As we have often said, the SoHo Alliance is non-partisan.  If the choice is between Marte who wants to save Elizabeth Street Garden and Chin who wants to destroy it, between Marte who takes no money from real estate developers and Chin who is beholden to them, between a community activist and a hack politician who has lied to us repeatedly, the choice is clear and party affiliations should not matter,
In fact, our neighbors and allies in the Downtown Independent Democrats have endorsed Marte and are urging us to vote for him on the Independence Party line on November 7.
People ask the viability of Marte’s challenge.  In 2005, a Brooklyn city council candidate, Letitia James, running on the Working Families Party line, beat out her Democratic Party challenger.  She is now public advocate.
So Marte will face a challenge, but not an impossibility.  Pundits thought he had no chance of coming so close to Chin in the Primary and they were all proved wrong.  Vote for SoHo and the Elizabeth Street Garden on November 7,
– SoHo’s Next State Senator Picked by Two Party Bosses in the Backroom of Junior’s Cheesecake Restaurant  – How Cheesy Is That?
In August our state senator Daniel Squadron abruptly resigned from office, too late to have the voters choose his replacement in the September 12 Primary.
The legal process to select his temporary replacement is a mechanism called the Local Democratic County Committee, which is composed of over 100 local activists and block captains, our neighbors. Their task is to choose a replacement until the actual voters have a chance to vote in the next state senate election cycle in 2018.
On September 17 activists from SoHo, TriBeCa, Downtown, and the Lower East Side assembled to select a replacement for Squadron. There were two leading candidates.
One was Paul Newell, a reformer from the Lower East Side, who had the courage of his convictions to run against Sheldon Silver in 2008, when Silver was at the height of his power.  Newell is  district leader out of Downtown Independent Democrats.
The other was Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, who currently represents the east side from East 43rd Street down to Houston Street.  He happens to be Squadron’s roommate in Albany and privy to his roommate’s plans.  Kavanagh had resided in midtown for years.
However, when it became apparent that Squadron wanted out of Albany, Kavanagh moved from midtown to Avenue C and East 2 Street, which was just one of three blocks that happened to overlap Kavanagh’s assembly district as well as Squadron’s senate district.
Thus Kavanagh could run for Squadron’s senate seat, but, were he to lose, would still retain his place in the assembly.  To say this is a cynical scheme between Squadron and Kavanagh is being kind.
Anyway, at the Local County Committee meeting our grassroots activists voted overwhelmingly for Newell – 72%.
However, the senate district is bi-borough. That is, 2/3 is in lower Manhattan and 1/3 is in northern Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Democratic Party boss, Frank Seddio, who was forced to resign seveal years ago from a judgeship because of ethics violations. did not want a reformer in the senate.  So he exercised his perogative not to allow the Brooklyn County Committee to vote on whom the Brooklyn grassroots wished to represent them.
On September 18, Seddio met with Manhattan County Democratic leader, Keiith Wright, a lobbyist, at Junior’s Restaurant in Brooklyn. Wright also did not want a reformer.
In a deal in the backromm of the cheesecake restaurant, Wright ignored the wishes of his Local County Committee (which, unfortunately, he can legally do).
He and Seddio instead agreed to select Kavanagh to be on the Democratic Party line in the November 7 General Election, ignoring the wishes of the rank-and-file.
It is sad that two self-procalimed reformers, Squsadron and Kavanagh, were parties to this sleazy scenario.  Kavanagh is a decent guy but his rise to the senate will be forever tainted.
However, rather than being discouraged, these events have embolded the grassroots in Manhattan.
A move was soon put forward to remove Wright from his leadership position.  The full Manhattan County Committee of some thousand indiividuals is now scheduled to meet later this year to vote whether to remove Wright, due to the conflict of interest his lobbying job creates.  Stay tuned.
Sean Sweeney
SoHo Alliance

City Council Race: Chin v. Marte Squadron Resigns; We Need You to Decide His Replacement

City Council Race: Chin v. Marte
Citywide, this year’s election cycle has been relatively quiet, with most incumbents running unopposed or facing underdog challengers. But not in SoHo. Two local races are grabbing attention.
One is a challenge to the unpopular current councilmember, Margaret Chin.  The other is to pick a replacement for Daniel Squadron, who abruptly resigned last month after representing most of SoHo in the state senate for the past ten years.
Chin is facing three challengers in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, September 12.  Our allies at the Downtown Independent Democrats have endorsed Christopher Marte to replace Chin in the council.
Marte, 28, was born and raised on the Lower East Side to Dominican immigrant parents. He has traveled widely in pursuit of his BA in Globals Studies, including China where he became fluent in conversational Mandarin.  Marte was accepted into the prestigious London School of Economics, studying international finance.  Returning home, he interned with the Brooklyn DA  and then was employed  as a financial analyst at IBM Retirement.  A dedicated community activist, Christopher has volunteered with many local non-profits.
Marte is working diligently with us to save the Elizabeth Street Garden from Chin’s bulldozers. He supports the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, legislation to help preserve neighborhood businesses from being driven out due to astronomical rents. Chris supports the proposed downzoning of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, something the current councilmember failed to do.  The September 12th primary is open to registered Democrats.
Squadron Resigns; We Need You to Decide His Replacement
You may have read that Daniel Squadron resigned two weeks ago for a job in the private sector.  Since the state senate election won’t be until 2018, we need to find a replacement to represent us in Albany.
This replacement is accomplished via an arcane process, the Democratic County Committee, where Committee members meet one evening to select a replacement for Squadron.  Editorial boards and good-government groups often assail this process as being controlled by political bosses who appoint their cronies to the County Committee to vote for the boss’ candidate.
That is why we are seeking registered Democrats to add their names to SoHo’s County Committee list to choose Squadron’s replacement.  We need the grassroots on our side.
Little is required on your part.  The Committee will meet one evening in late September to vote in a replacement for Squadron until the regular 2018 election. The Committee meeting should last about an hour and be within waking distance.  There are about 200 Committee members in the senate district.  So your vote will count tremendously.
If you are a registered Democrat and interested in good government and fair representation, please email back and we shall get you enrolled in the Committee.  Thank you in advance.
Sean Sweeney
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
NY, NY 10012