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 


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.



Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429
New York, NY 10012

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.

Sean SweeneyDirector

SoHo Alliance
PO Box 429 New York, NY 10012

SoHo Alliance – January 2017

We are your neighborhood watchdogs.  We work with elected officials and city agencies to ensure our community thrives.  Our hotline (212-353-8466) is available seven days a week to assist residents and businesses alike when a problem arises or questions need answered.
Our work over the years controlling inappropriate development pressures 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 city.  Our success at curtailing nightclubs and late-night bars have ensured a quiet neighborhood in the evening once the shoppers and tourists depart.  We monitor and curtail aggressive retailers who put their profits ahead of our quality of like.  We serve on the community board, giving you a voice in city government.
We shall continue our mission in 2017 but we need you to invest in SoHo and in your own well-being.
Click here to contribute online.  Or mail you check to SoHo Alliance, PO Box 429, New York, NY 10012.  If you wish a reply envelope to mail your donation, email us at and we’ll get one off to you immediately.
Wishing you and yours all the best in 2017,
Sean Sweeney, Director
SoHo Alliance


It was suddenly organized when word leaked out that Nike is opening a massive 6-story retail complex this weekend at 529 Broadway (n.w. corner of Spring) contrary to the zoning law – and Mayor de Blasio’s Buildings Department is permitting it, despite opposition from our elected officials, SoHo activists and the community board.
When: Thursday, November 10 at 2pm
Where: NYC Department of Buildings, 280 Broadway at Chambers Street
Who: State Senator Daniel Squadron
          Assemblymember Deborah Glick
          Borough President Gale Brewer
          Councilmember Margaret Chin
          Community Board 2 Chair Tobi Bergman
Sean Sweeney, Director
SoHo Alliance
SoHo residents and community leaders will rally against the broken policies and decisions of the Department of Buildings that led to the granting of a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy to a giant, multi-floor Nike retail space in the middle of one of the most congested shopping districts in the city.
The Nike store is scheduled to open this week inside a new six-story retail complex at the site of a completely demolished building. Despite leaving intact only a small portion of the original party wall, DOB treated the Nike site as an “alteration” of an existing property rather than a new building – a decision that allowed a big-box store to open along a shopping corridor already saturated with retail space.
DOB’s decision – made over the opposition of our local elected official, SoHo activist and the local community board – puts the interests of a global corporation over the safety of pedestrians forced to navigate congested sidewalks and those looking to protect the historic character and zoning laws of one of the City’s most iconic neighborhoods.