The Real Deal New York

Indie designers unite against the new, corporate Soho

New nonprofit fights back against rising rents and large chain stores
August 17, 2015 11:00AM

Soho isn’t the artsy, boutique, mom-and-pop crafts-and-design paradise it used to be.

While the neighborhood remains a fashion industry hub, Soho’s traditional, quirky, independently-owned shops are increasingly giving way to slick branded megastores, and the creative entrepreneurs are fighting back.

Residents and business owners in the neighborhood have formed a pressure group, Soho Design District, in hopes of pushing the city to halt or reverse the trend, AM New York reported.

Since its low-rent 1970s heyday, Soho has gradually gentrified, with its cultural cache leading to greater demand for housing and retail space, and ultimately higher rents and shop prices. The neighborhood even gave its name to this pattern of development, called the “Soho Effect.”

These trends have only accelerated since the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent recovery in the real estate market, with corporate megastores such as Nike, Best Buy and Uniqlo becoming a prominent part of the landscape.

Current zoning rules forbid commercial spaces occupying more 10,000 square feet, but the city has granted special permits to many of the larger stores. [amNY] – Ariel Stulberg