The Real Deal New York

Soho landlords are joining forces to win the neighborhood’s rezoning fight

But they’re already facing residence from residents and opponents
February 08, 2019 11:30AM

From left: Jared Epstein, Gale Brewer, Margaret Chin with Soho (Credit: Getty Images and Pixabay)

Both sides in the fight over a rezoning of Soho are gearing up for battle.

A group of major Soho landlords and developers have formed an advocacy organization to push rezoning in Soho and Noho.

The new group, called the “Fix Soho Noho Coalition,” includes big league property owners Vornado Realty Trust, Himmel + Meringoff, Crown Acquisitions and Olmstead Properties, according to Crain’s.

The landlords and developers are gearing up for a potentially explosive political fight over the future of zoning in Soho. In the last few decades, retail and residential development in Soho has exploded, despite the fact that it is technically not allowed under current zoning laws.

Landlords say that old rules, written when the area was largely used for manufacturing, are outdated and stand in the way of further development.

“The coalition came together to ensure there was a unified voice representing commercial and residential property owners, and advocating to make sure the city gets it right,” said Jared Epstein, vice president of Aurora Capital Associates.

Last year, the city started exploring potential rezoning in Soho and Noho to allow certain allow certain ground-floor retail and residential use in the neighborhoods.

But any proposed changes are expected to provoke public outcry and resistance. Residents and opponents, like the Soho Alliance, packed a public meeting Wednesday evening organized by the Department of City Planning, Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer and city councilmember Margaret Chin, according to Crain’s.

The neighborhood’s last rezoning in 1971, when the city legalized live-work spaces for artists. In 1982, the state passed the Loft Law, which allowed certain tenants using space illegally to avoid eviction.

The process of public input is expected to last until June, after which the mayor’s office will draw up a formal rezoning plan. That plan will then undergo formal review process. [Crain’s] – Decca Muldowney