Mayor de Blasio is proposing that the neighborhoods of SoHo and NoHo, which have become wealthy enclaves for luxury loft apartments, shopping and art galleries, would be rezoned for the first time in 50 years to create new affordable housing options.
The goal would also be to allow a wider range of commercial uses for buildings, and also support live-work and arts/cultural spaces that help align with the neighborhood’s original history.
“New York City has changed a lot in the last fifty years, and SoHo and NoHo have changed with it,” he said in a press release. “Thoughtful, progressive zoning changes will pave the way for the next fifty years of growth – while making two iconic neighborhoods more accessible than ever, and helping us rebuild a fairer and better city.”
The proposed changes would affect the area between Canal Street to the south, Houston Street and Astor Place to the north, Lafayette Street and the Bowery to the east, and Sixth Avenue and West Broadway to the west. The area’s current zoning dates back to the 1970s and is only found in these NYC neighborhoods still. They were created when empty manufacturing buildings in the neighborhoods were being repurposed by the growing artist scene.
Basically the re-zoning would “allow new homes to be created and require affordable housing in all new developments, allowing as many as 3,200 new homes to be created, with approximately 800 permanently affordable homes via Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH). Existing rent-regulated homes, many covered by the Loft Law, will remain protected,” according to the announcement.
The process first began last year, throughout which over 40 meetings were held with the public and members of the community.
Because of the datedness of the current zoning laws, the new plan would also seek to get rid of “overly complex and obsolete regulations that burden local business owners and artisans.” This included long and expensive approval processes for storefronts that also led to the many retail vacancies.
It’s also quite a change because usually in NYC, rezoning is typically down in low-income neighborhoods, not wealthy ones, according to the NY Times.
Of course, some opposition to the plan highlights how these additions could include tall, modern buildings that would ruin the neighborhood’s historic character. The Mayor’s statement read: “Inside the historic districts, contextual zoning will guide building form and scale in keeping with historic context.”
You can read more about the plan on the NYC Gov website here.
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