Important Public Meeting Tonight

Public Hearing: Wednesday, January 8, 6:30-8:00 pm.  Doors open at 6:00. Get there early to sign in, get a nice seat and a speaker’s card for the public session from 7:00-8:00. Scholastic Building, 130 Mercer Street
Community Board 2 Hearing: Wednesday, January 15, 6:30 pm.  Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker Street

A reminder that the presentation of the long-awaited SoHo/NoHo Rezoning Study is this evening. The public will have an hour to comment.  The real-estate lobby promises to be out in force.
 
We strongly urge you to attend if you value your neighborhood and your quality-of-life.  And be sure to calendar next week’s equally important community board hearing on this issue.  The community board will present a resolution to the City based on what they hear from us next week.

Since the time each person has to speak may be short, there will likely be cards distributed for you to write down and submit your opinions and ideas for the record.  
Here are some talking points: – Expand residential use to non-artists without jeopardizing the tenancy of existing artists and seniors aging in place– Maintain the current requirement for a Special Permit for retail stores greater than 10,000 square feet, in order to protect a reasonable quality-of-life for residents

– Maintain the current limit of 5,000 square feet for restaurants and bars– Maintain the current height and bulk limits, keeping SoHo/NoHo low-rise and low-density
– Do not divide SoHo/NoHo into separate zoning subdistricts, placing troublesome uses on some blocks but not on others, dividing and conquering us
– Limit retail deliveries to between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm– Maintain the interior loading-dock requirement for retail stores in excess of 25,000 gross square-feet– Maintain current 1,200 square-foot minimum for residential loft space — no pieds-à-terre – Support tax credits for units housing “creative” industries or individuals, in order to maintain SoHo/NoHo’s heritage as a creative mecca– Study correlation between higher retail rents effectuating higher property taxes
– Explain what these two report recommendations imply:        – “wider range of compatible uses”       – “different considerations” for those parts of SoHo/NoHo that are not within Historic District boundaries

Please forward this email to friends and neighbors.

Sincerely,Sean Sweeney
Director
SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012
212-353-8466
info@sohoalliance.org
sohoalliance.org

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Public Hearing: Wednesday, January 8, 6:30-8:00 pm

Doors open at 6:00. Get there early.  Scholastic Building, 130 Mercer StreetCommunity Board 2 Hearing: Wednesday, January 15, 6:30 pm Sheen Center, 18 Bleecker Street
Please forward this email to friends and neighbors.

The Department of City Planning, Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin — the sponsors of the recently released SoHo/NoHo rezoning report — will present the report and its recommendations to the public this Wednesday and seek our input. View the report here. The recommendations start on page 45.

From this interaction the sponsors plan to develop strategies to address future land-use and quality-of-life issues.
Alarmingly, we have obtained emails from REBNY(Real Estate Board of New York) — the trade association for New York’s most powerful real-estate professionals — enjoining its members to attend the hearing and to press for REBNY’s stated retail goal in SoHo/NoHo: UNRESTRICTED RETAIL USE with UNLIMITED SQUARE FOOTAGE.   

Not only REBNY but also the SoHo Broadway BID has been urging its people to attend. That BID has called for retail use without limitation to size throughout Broadway buildings.
Additionally, a group of millennials from the outer boroughs with ties to real estate development, Open New York, has demanded increased height, bulk and density in SoHo/NoHo, basically calling for the removal of current landmarking and zoning protections.
 
They too have been rallying their members to attend, going so far as today handing out flyers in front of the Trader Joe’s on the Lower East Side, trolling for people to attend and to support their upzoning plan.  SoHo/NoHo is under siege.
We need you to attend and to let the sponsors hear the voices of the real people who actually live here, who run small businesses here, who have built this neighborhood – not the strident calls of real-estate lobbyists who view our community as their own little piggy bank to raid.

From 6:30 to 7:00 the sponsors will present the study. From 7:00 to 8:00 the public will have its chance to speak.  
We do not understand why the sponsors have allotted a mere hour for the large number of people expected to attend. We’ll be lucky if we have a minute each to speak.  
To address that concern, cards may be distributed for us to write down our suggestions and opinions.
 
Be sure you are clear and succinct regarding what we want, namely: – Expand residential use to non-artists without jeopardizing the tenancy of existing artists and seniors aging in place– Maintain the current requirement for a Special Permit for retail stores greater than 10,000 square feet, in order to protect a reasonable quality-of-life for residents
– Maintain the current limit of 5,000 square feet for restaurants and bars– Maintain the current height and bulk limits, keeping SoHo/NoHo low-rise and low-density
– Do not divide SoHo/NoHo into separate zoning subdistricts, placing troublesome uses on some blocks but not on others, dividing and conquering us
– Limit retail deliveries to between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm– Maintain the interior loading-dock requirement for retail stores in excess of 25,000 gross square-feet– Support tax credits for units housing “creative” industries or individuals, in order to maintain SoHo/NoHo’s heritage as a creative mecca– Study correlation between higher retail rents effectuating higher property taxes

– Explain what these two report recommendations imply:        – “wider range of compatible uses”       – “different considerations” for those parts of SoHo/NoHo that are not within Historic District boundaries
If you absolutely cannot make the meeting, please reply to this email with your recommendations and we shall forward them to the sponsors.
Also be sure to calendar and attend the meeting of Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee the following Wednesday, January 15 at 6:30.  
This venue will provide greater time and opportunity for people to express how they want our community to develop. The real-estate people have been told to pack that meeting as well.  Let’s make sure we overwhelm them in numbers and in ideas.   
Please forward this email to friends and neighbors.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Sean Sweeney
Director SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012
212-353-8466
info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

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Invest in SoHo. Invest in yourself.


Please support our once-a-year appeal and contribute to your personal stake in SoHo here 

Year in Review: Your Donations at Work
2019 saw victory in the SoHo Alliance’s 33-year-long campaign to reverse the iniquitous one-way toll on the Verrazano Bridge. 

Yesterday legislation authorizing the return to normal double-tolling on the bridge was signed into law in Washington.  

For four decades the SoHo Alliance filed lawsuits, staged countless demonstrations and lobbied all our elected officials to achieve this goal. 

Our successful effort will remove an incalculable number of cars from our historic streets, along with the accompanying gridlock, congestion, honking and pollution on Broome, Canal, Hudson and Varick Streets.
 
We invest in SoHo. You can too. Contribute here
When we learned in June that there was a legislative attempt to end the condo and coop property-tax abatement, we rallied SoHo residents to petition our state legislators to extend the tax abatements for two more years.  Our successful effort saved SoHo residents millions of dollars in burdensome taxes. 

We invest in SoHo. You can too. Contribute here
In January, the SoHo Alliance alerted our community to a city-sponsored study to rezone SoHo/NoHo.
 
Hundreds of us packed a half dozen public meetings – to the surprise of the politicians.  
Our members served on a special Envision SoHo/NoHo Advisory Group, reminding our officials that people actually live here and are serious about protecting our neighborhood, our homes and our investments from a speculative real-estate takeover.  

We invest in SoHo. You can too. Contribute here
This year saw us fight against the spread of oversized retail stores, at the same time taking part in efforts to assist small retail operations survive.

We invest in SoHo. You can too. Contribute here
The SoHo Alliance liaised with the NYPD in organizing Community Policing meetings, where residents and businesses can directly address our local officers on issues affecting them.  
When people complained about two noisy restaurants that violated their liquor license with late-night rackets after the permitted closing time, we organized and worked with the neighbors to rein in the owner.  We take our quality-of-life seriously.
When Houston Street residents sought our help to remove a Staten Island Express Bus layover (and attendant exhaust) from in front of their homes, we persuaded the the MTA to move the bus stop to a location far from residential buildings.

We invest in SoHo. You can too. Contribute here
We encouraged SoHo voters to take part in local elections, providing endorsements of candidates who will best serve us.

The SoHo Alliance hotline 212-353-8466 or info@sohoalliance.org is available seven days a week to personally assist residents and businesses when a problem arises or questions need answered.  

The work of the Alliance over the years in controlling inappropriate development has helped contribute to the phenomenal rise in our neighborhood’s property values.  
Our achievements in historic preservation have turned SoHo into one of the most renowned landmarked districts in the world.
 
Our success at curtailing nightclubs and late-night bars ensures quiet nights in the city that never sleeps.  
We shall continue this mission in 2020 – but we need you to invest in SoHo and in your own well-being.

Contribute here or mail your check to:SoHo Alliance, PO Box 429, New York, NY 10012.  
Wishing you and yours all the best this holiday season and throughout 2020,

Sincerely,
Sean Sweeney
Director

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

SoHo/NoHo Zoning: Public Meeting

The Department of City Planning, Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin will hold a public meeting in SoHo on January 8 to present the study they commissioned earlier this year and to discuss its findings. View the report here.
This meeting will give us the opportunity to hear what these officials think of the report and what they propose to do regarding the study and our zoning.
The recommendations in the report are rather vague and the generalized language gives these officials lots of wiggle room.

For example, although the report recommends retaining the existing 10,000 square-foot limit on retail, it also suggests dividing parts of SoHo/NoHo into “sub-areas” based on street width or other factors.
The following streets are defined as “wide” under zoning: Broadway, Lafayette, Centre, Houston, Canal, Great Jones, the Bowery, Astor Place, and Fourth Avenue
Might these streets be exempt from the proposed 10,000 square-foot limit?  The report is vague on that. 

Such exceptions would further transform those areas into Herald Square, while funneling the additional spillover and problems into our side streets. 
Moreover, we shall never agree to any proposal that would subdivide our community – pitting one block against the other, dividing and conquering.  Who would dare Balkanize our neighborhood?

Another vague recommendation calls for “the possibility of increased density” on parking lots and one-story buildings.  The last thing we want on those sites is super-sized buildings packed with studio apartments, which usually cater to a transient population. 
We need answers.

Be there to listen to the sponsors and have them hear your views and questions on these important recommendations.

Where: Scholastic Building, 130 Mercer StreetWhen: Wednesday, January 8 Doors open at 6:00.Opening remarks from the sponsors: 6:30-7:00Feedback from us: 7:00-8:00Save the date.  See flyer below for more details

Holiday Party Invitation
Your friends and neighbors in the Downtown Independent Democrats invite you to our annual Holiday Party this Wednesday. The event is free and non-partisan; all are welcome.  
This is your opportunity to mingle with and meet our current elected officials, candidates for public office, community activists, and just plain neighbors in a very festive atmosphere. Drinks and snacks will be provided.
When: Wednesday, December 18, 6:30 – 8:30Where: Von Bar, 3 Bleecker Street (downstairs), just west of the Bowery
TimeOut has described Von’s as “no kitsch, no trash, no pretense”. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  RSVP here.

Sincerely,

Sean Sweeney
Director

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

The Incredible, Creeping BID

Postcards mailed last week to select SoHo properties from a group composed largely of real-estate investors announced the formation of a steering committee with plans to expand the current Business Improvement District (BID) to cover ALL of SoHo – and beyond. 

This comes as no surprise. 

When the current SoHo Broadway BID was being formed eight years ago, our Freedom of Information Law request produced handwritten notes from its steering committee revealing its true goal “to eventually expand to all of SoHo.”  The chickens have come home to roost.

The BID’s stated purpose then was to remove the trash on Broadway. That was all!!  It certainly was not to lobby for unrestricted, oversize retail stores, as the BID is now advocating.

The Broadway BID board of directors just passed a resolution calling for zoning changes to permit unrestricted retail use throughout an entire building – from the sub-cellar up to the top floor of a building of any size.  In other words, Herald Square.

Now the same people behind the Broadway BID are organizing to spread it to all of SoHo.

Their website touts the benefits of ”the marketing efforts of BIDs” to retailers and the BID’s desire to “offer events and coordinated promotions to attract shoppers and visitors.”

Not a word about us beleaguered residents. 
Nor about the increased property taxes assessed to pay for the BID’s executives’ high salaries (while the humble street cleaners are paid minimum wage).

Their postcard linked to a website which had a survey that was actually a “push-poll”.  A push-poll is a survey so worded as to “push” from the respondent the very answers that the sponsors are seeking.

This push-poll sought whether we agreed that SoHo has “dirty streets” and “lacks a clear identity” (huh?), as well as feel-good items like the need for “open space, pedestrian safety and better lighting.”  

Nowhere did the survey ask if we want:  – increased retail  – megastores and department stores of unlimited square footage  – more shoppers – more tourists – more crowds – more congested sidewalks and subway platforms – more traffic and honking – more tourists’ garbage – more taxes 

IF YOU RECEIVED ONE OF THEIR POSTCARDS, WE URGE YOU TO BOYCOTT THE SURVEY.   IT WILL ONLY SERVE TO FURTHER THE EXPANSION OF A BID INTO OUR COMMUNITY.  

The proposed BID’s steering committee has hired a PR firm to smooth this through City Hall over the next few months.  Representatives from de Blasio’s Office of Small Business Services have expressed support for the expansion.  So we have our work cut out for us.

If you receive any more notices soliciting your opinion or help, please let us know.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS

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Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

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

SoHo News: Zoning Update; Early Voting; ESG Harvest Fest

– Zoning Update– Early Voting: Sat Oct 26 – Mon Nov 4  //  Ballot Recommendations– Elizabeth Street Garden Harvest Festival Saturday October 26
Zoning UpdateThe report on the SoHo/NoHo zoning planning study undertaken earlier this year was due out in late August. However, it is still unreleased. People have been asking when it will be completed.  
We inquired and have learned that the report has been finished and submitted to its city sponsors who are now reviewing it. Upon completion of the review, likely in a few weeks, it will be released to the public.  Stay tuned.

Early Voting: Saturday October 26 Through Monday November 4 You no longer need wait until the official election day, November 5, to vote. 
New York State has implemented early voting, making it easier for us to get to the polls. In the city, general elections draw only about 21% of eligible voters and primaries only a dismal 13%.  So anything that better enfranchises us is welcomed.
Unfortunately, although there are 61 early-voting poll sites throughout the five boroughs, Manhattan has only a scant nine, basically due to an unenthusiastic Manhattan Elections commissioner. So these early sites will not be your usual polling place. 
For the hours and location of your early-voting site, click here.
In general: if you live in the area west of Crosby Street, you vote early at The Clinton School, 10 East 15 Street; if you live east of Crosby, you vote early at the public school on 220 Henry Street.
These sites are about a mile away from most of us.  But they are open during standard hours, even on weekends.  So if it is convenient, you can vote early at these sites. On the regular election day, November 5, you will be able to vote at your usual poll site here
Ballot Question RecommendationsThis is a quiet election year. Only two items are on the ballot: the public advocate race and proposed New York City Charter amendments.  
The City Charter is the city’s constitution and its last major revision was in 1989. This year there are nineteen issues contained within five generalized ballot questions that you will ask to approve or reject. 
The five questions deal with elections. the Civilian Complaint Review Board, ethics and governance, the city budget, and land use. To view in detail these ballot questions, click here.
In the public advocate race, Democrat and incumbent Jumaane Williams is squaring off against the Republican Council Minority Whip Joe Borelli.  
The SoHo Alliance is non-partisan but our friends and neighbors in the reform Downtown Independent Democrats club recommend a YES vote on ALL FIVE ballot questions.
Although D.I.D. did not necessarily agree 100% with all the 19 proposals, overall a yes vote is preferred. In fact, most good government and activist groups, as well as both Republican and Democratic officials, are recommending a yes vote. 

Elizabeth Street Garden 7th Annual Harvest Festival – Saturday October 26      Court Date Set: Friday, November 15The Elizabeth Street Garden Seventh Annual Harvest Festival is taking place Saturday, October 26.  It is a special day full of free fun and activities for everyone to enjoy, including pumpkin decorating, face painting, crafts and more.

Festival Schedule
12:00 – 4:00  Ghastly Graveyard of Goblins & Ghouls, arts & crafts with McNally Jackson Bookstore.
12:00 – 4:00  Pumpkin Decorating
12:00 – 4:00  Face Painting
12:00 – 2:00: DJ set by Justin Dean Thomas
12:30 – 1:00: Spooky Storytime with Mulberry St Library
12:30 – 1:30: Tai Chi Practice with Tom Sessions
2:00  –  2:30: Welcoming & guest speakers
2:45  –  3:30: Live music by Shareef Keyes & the Groove
4:00  – Closing + CleanupWEAR YOUR COSTUMES! Incidentally, the legal action to save our garden will be heard in New York State Supreme Court on Friday, November 15 at 9:30 a.m.  Mark it in your calendar.
Please forward this email to your friends and neighbors who may not be on our list.  Thank you.
Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

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

Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing

Please forward to friends and neighbors.
The SoHo Alliance has been receiving emails seeking information regarding a flyer that arrived recently in the mail from a nebulous group calling itself “Fix SoHo/NoHo Zoning”.  
The flyer, entitled A Letter From Your Neighbors, seeks a change to our current zoning and asks residents to sign and return the flyer to the group, who will forward it to our elected officials. 
People are asking:

  • Who ls behind Fix SoHo/NoHo?
  • Who bankrolled this expensive, glossy mailing?
  • How should we respond?  

The last question is easy: Ignore the flyer and relegate it to your trash can
According to an article in the Real Deal entitled SoHo Landlords Are Joining Forces to Win the Neighborhood’s Rezoning Fight, Fix SoHo/NoHo is comprised of “big league property owners Vornado Realty Trust, Himmel + Meringoff, Crown Acquisitions, Aurora Capitol and Olmstead Properties.”  Several of these companies have operated illegal oversized retail locations here for years, creating the very problem they now ask you to solve for them.  
These companies are members of REBNY, the Real Estate Board of New York, with capitalization running into the billions of dollars, none of whom are even based here and none of whom is your friend.  REBNY’s position to “fix” the zoning is to allow unlimited oversized retail space in SoHo/NoHo. They want to turn your neighborhood into Herald Square.
The flyer is signed by some five dozen individuals, some of whom are our neighbors and often allies.  We feel these good people were misled.  
However, many of the signers are real estate professionals, a worthy occupation. However, if this group were really sincere and not self-serving, it would have revealed that fact to you.

The flyer itself is full of misrepresentations. 

  • Seeking to pit artist against non-artist, neighbor against neighbor in a classic divide-and-conquer stratagem, Fix SoHo/NoHo purports to have insider knowledge of the city’s plans regarding loft living, when, in fact, none of its signers were on the SoHo/NoHo Zoning Advisory Group that convened this spring.  On the other hand, we who actually served on this zoning study group have absolutely no idea what the final report will state, since its authors have been keeping their findings close to the chest.
  • The flyer also fallaciously claims SoHo/NoHo has 25,000 residents. Had they done their homework like simply checking with the US Census Bureau instead of concocting data, they would know that the actual number is closer to 8,000.  If Fix SoHo/NoHo cannot get that simple fact correct, it is difficult to believe anything else this group claims to be true.
  • We could go on, but how can you take seriously a group whose return address is a real-estate lawyer’s office located at 561 Broadway Avenue?  Broadway Avenue??

Fix SoHo/NoHo gets down to its real agenda later on in the flyer, when It seeks increased retail options. Fine, but, again, they are being disingenuous. 

They do not tell you that they recently sent a letter to the City Planning Commission seeking permission to legalize 42,000 square-feet of oversized retail at 503 Broadway, a space that for years has been a plague to residents on Broadway and Mercer Street.
Indeed, this week the Buildings Department issued 503 Broadway thirteen violations for illegal signage with potential fines reaching $100,000, including this illegal monstrosity that besmirches our landmarked district.
Fix SoHo/NoHo says retail businesses pay taxes. True, but we residents see little of that returned to our neighborhood. So how does that benefit you?
Contrariwise, increased retail rents and commercial property sales prices are partly responsible for the increased coop/condo property taxes many of us have seen skyrocketing in the past several years, since property taxes are based partially on recent commercial sales prices in the area.  Increased retail means increased property valuations means increased property taxes for us. Why didn’t Fix SoHo/NoHo tell us that?

The final report from the sponsors of this spring’s zoning study is due in October and the community board will convene a meeting in November to hear from us on the report.  
Until then, ignore the real-estate speculators of Fix SoHo/NoHo.
Please forward this email to your friends and neighbors who may not be on our list.
Sincerely,

Sean SweeneyDirector

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

Storefronts in Landmarked Buildings and Historic Districts: What You Need to Know

The SoHo Alliance cares about small businesses in our neighborhood as well as about historic preservation. Stores and commercial spaces bring important services, products, jobs and character to our community.
So we invite you to an upcoming free program where we join preservation and business groups to learn about new landmark guidelines, as well as the survival (and success) of small businesses in historic districts.

Storefronts in Landmarked Buildings and Historic Districts: What You Need to KnowThursday, September 12 6:30pm
The Washington Square Institute, 41 East 11th Street, 4th Floor
Despite having many benefits being in an historic district, commercial establishments also have Landmark Preservation Commission(LPC) rules to follow. The LPC recently issued guidelines to help business owners obtain approval for changes and to better understand the new regulations.
Join us for a presentation where you will have an opportunity to address your questions or concerns directly with LPC Deputy Director of Preservation William Neeley and LPC Deputy Counsel John Weiss. Learn the new guidelines and how businesses can survive and thrive in our landmarked neighborhood. 

Small business owners and merchants are especially encouraged to attend! Tell a friend. The event is free, but RSVP here.
Co-sponsors: Manhattan Community Boards 2 and 3, Cooper Square Committee, East Village Community Coalition, East Village Independent Merchant’s Association, Historic Districts Council, Meatpacking District Business Improvement District, NoHo Business Improvement District, NoHo Neighborhood Association, SoHo Alliance, Greenwich Village–Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, Village Alliance, Village Preservation.

Sincerely,

Sean Sweeney Director

SoHo Alliance PO Box 429 New York, NY 10012 212-353-8466

info@sohoalliance.orgsohoalliance.org

Zara Forced to Seek Special Permit for Oversized Retail After Years of Illegal Operation

–Crucial Community Board Hearing on Wednesday
Multinational retailer Zara, located in the former Old Navy space since 2015, has applied for a Special Permit from the City Planning Commission to operate a 42,000 square-foot megastore at 503 Broadway, extending to 82 Mercer Street.  Retail stores over 10,000 square feet in SoHo/NoHo are not permitted without this Special Permit.  
The application seeks to remove a Buildings Department violation Zara received for operating its oversized store illegally for the past four years.
Background:Heng Sang Realty Corporation purchased the building in 1982 and the certificate of occupancy for the entire building allowed only “Factory Use”. 
However, from 1998 until 2015, Heng Sang leased the 26,000 square-feet ground-floor space to Old Navy, creating an illegal oversized retail operation, which, oddly, was never issued a violation by the city.


Despite the lack of the oversized-retail Special Permit for Old Navy, in 2001 the Building Department issued a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, which listed the entire ground-floor space, 26,000 square feet, as a “Large Retail” Use Group.  
How Hang Seng Realty obtained this change from Factory Use to Large Retail Use from the Buildings Department without first receiving a Special Permit from the City Planning Commission remains a mystery, although one can only imagine.
In 2015, the building’s ownership split into condos and Heng Sang sold the retail space to Zara.


After Zara took ownership, it illegally extended its retail operation to the second floor, whose certificate of occupancy still had a “Factory Use” requirement. 
In 2017 and 2018, after complaints from the Broadway Residents Coalition, Zara received violations from the Buildings Department for operating an oversized store in violation of our zoning laws.  
However, it took until 2019 for Zara to apply for the Special Permit – only after being busted by Buildings and after three years of its illegal operation.
Zara has been a nightmare for its neighbors, drawing not only throngs of shoppers but also bringing in huge tractor-trailers that unload merchandise well past midnight, ruining the sleep and quality of life of nearby residents.
Incidentally, Zara is owned by Armancia Ortega, who, at $70 billion, is the sixth richest person on the planet. So this is not some small inexperienced retailer who made an error, but a willful effort to undermine our zoning. 
One reason for the transition of SoHo from a small retail and boutique destination to a shopping mall is directly due to the illegal behavior of both Heng Sang and Zara. Now they want our blessing to legitimize their decades-long disregard for the SoHo community and our city’s laws.
Zara will appear before the community board on Wednesday evening to present its application.

If Zara gets this 42,000 square-feet Special Permit, you can be certain that other oversized operators will flood our community, further deteriorating our quality of life with more crowds, traffic, congestion, trash and late-night deliveries.
Please attend this crucial community board meeting to voice your opposition to this legitimization of illegality and, more importantly, to salvage what we have left of reasonably sized retail operations in SoHo.
If you cannot attend, email your thoughts to us at info@sohoalliance.org and we shall forward it to the community board.
WHEN: Wednesday, September 11, 6:30 pmWHERE: Grace Church School, 86 Fourth Avenue (between East 10th & East 11th Streets)
Sincerely,Sean SweeneyDirector

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

Success: Coop/Condo Tax Abatement Extended 2 Years

We are pleased to announce that the coop/condo property tax abatement has been extended for two years.
Last weekend we reported that the city – with only three days left in the legislative session – had still not introduced legislation in Albany to extend the abatement.  We asked you to write your local state electeds and enjoin them to do something fast.
On Monday, our state senator, Brian Kavanagh, sponsored legislation to extend the abatement for two years, co-sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman. It passed Wednesday and the governor is expected to sign it.
Apparently there is a move afoot to fund NYCHA housing repairs by eliminating property tax exemptions for coops and condos.  One bill introduced in the state assembly this winter called for drastic, across the board, cuts in the abatements.  However, it was so broad-based and extreme that de Blasio and other legislators opposed it.
The coop/condo tax abatements were originally established to bring equity in the property tax system, with the logic that if owners of 1- to 3-family homes were getting abatements, so justly should condo/coop homeowners.
Incidentally, the STAR tax exemption and the property tax exemption for seniors remains untouched.
The mayor has set up a commission to recommend reforms in the property tax system. So we expect this issue to rear its head again. We shall keep you informed.  

*****************Another bill that concerned us was a proposal to set time limits for a coop to decide on a new buyer’s application, and to put the reasons in writing for rejecting an applicant. The bill was laid aside until next year.  
By the way, we got much of this information from an excellent new, independent, non-profit news outlet THE CITY.  You can read it here.
*****************Finally, this news article relates the tale of an unethical developer who has submitted spurious data (as well as union-busting) to get a Special Permit from the city for 11,066 sq. ft. of retail on the ground and basement of a new office building on Lafayette Street.  
The SoHo Alliance spoke out against this application at a recent community board meeting. We have enough retail as it is, but we definitely cannot countenance awarding a permit to someone who abuses the process.

Sincerely, 

Sean SweeneyDirector

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