City officials mull rezoning in Soho and Noho

Proposal would change outdated industrial zoning

Soho (Credit: iStock)
Soho (Credit: iStock)

City officials are working on a proposal to rezone Soho and Noho to allow certain ground-floor retail and residential use in the neighborhoods.

Though Soho has come to be known for its shopping corridor, the neighborhood’s industrial zoning technically doesn’t allow for ground-floor retail and apartments. Such uses have at times been allowed through special permits and other means, but now the de Blasio administration is seeking to streamline the process, Crain’s reported.

The Department of City Planning, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council member Margaret Chin, are leading the charge and will be soliciting public input on the proposal. The neighborhood’s last big zoning change came in 1971, when the city legalized live-work spaces for artists that had sprung up as manufacturing jobs declined. Then in 1982, the state passed the Loft Law, which allowed certain tenants using space illegally to avoid eviction.

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Some residents in the neighborhood already aren’t thrilled at the prospect of allowing new uses without a special permit.

“Nobody in Soho wants a zoning change,” Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, told Crain’s. “We’re worried that real estate and large retail interests will take over the neighborhood from the pioneers and the newcomers who created the community.”

It’s not clear if the city will actively seek to increase housing as part of the rezoning in Soho and Noho. Soho was landmarked in 1973, which would make expanding residential use tricky in the neighborhood. [Crain’s] — Kathryn Brenzel