SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan will bring 900 affordable homes and economic opportunity to iconic, centrally located neighborhoods
Mayor Bill de Blasio today celebrated the City Council’s approval of the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan, the first overhaul of this area’s local zoning regulations in half a century. The plan will bring approximately 900 permanently affordable homes, support existing historic districts, invest in arts and culture through an innovative arts fund model, and introduce flexible zoning for ground floor and other uses.
“Today, New York City has taken a generational step toward building a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This rezoning victory sends a powerful message that every community can and should join the fight to help solve our affordable housing crisis and make this city accessible for working families. SoHo and NoHo are two of the most iconic neighborhoods in the country for a reason – and now, we are one step closer to them finally reflecting all the diversity that makes our city great.”
“The approval of the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan is a critical, precedent-setting milestone towards a fairer New York City,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “Creating more housing opportunities in well-resourced, centrally located neighborhoods is a moral, economic, and environmental imperative. Thank you to Council Member Chin, Council Member Rivera, and the stakeholders and advocates engaged in the process for the extraordinary efforts that have helped make this a reality.”
“As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, equity must be at the forefront of our work to increase affordable housing and economic opportunities. Today’s approval of the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan stands for the idea that all neighborhoods can and should play a part in solving the planning challenges we, as New Yorkers, share. Through permanently affordable housing requirements, support for the arts, and a balance between historic preservation and continued growth, this initiative is a much-needed step towards a fairer, more livable city. Thanks to Council Members Chin and Rivera for their leadership and collaboration on this vital plan,” said Department of City Planning Director Anita Laremont.
“The rezoning of SoHo and NoHo represents a significant milestone that realizes our commitment in Where We Live NYC to make sure that all our neighborhoods contribute to building a more equitable and affordable city,” said Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Louise Carroll. “For the first time affordable housing will be a permanent feature of the neighborhoods’ growth while ensuring that the community’s architectural, historical and cultural essence will continue to flourish. We commend the residents, local officials and various stakeholders for their critical partnership on this long awaited achievement.”
"Soho's artistic legacy is part of our collective cultural heritage as New Yorkers," said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals. "We applaud this historic rezoning effort, and the investments it signals in preserving and strengthening the creative landscape of Soho/NoHo and across all of Lower Manhattan."
“Open space and affordable housing are key to a livable city, and the SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan will create rare opportunities for new and improved parkland in this area,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. “As part of this plan, we are proud to make improvements at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, work with DEP to transform two sites into new public spaces for the community, and partner with DOT to reconstruct and expand the Pike and Allen Street Malls and explore the renovation of Petrosino Square and other neighborhood locations.”
The SoHo/NoHo Neighborhood Plan will, for the first time, permit housing and require affordable housing in all new developments, allowing as many as 3,500 new homes to be created, approximately 900 of which would be permanently affordable via the City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) program. In addition to new homes created on vacant and underutilized land, conversion of existing non-residential space to residential with a MIH requirement will create a more diverse, mixed-income neighborhood. Existing rent-regulated homes, many covered by the Loft Law, will remain protected under State tenant protections and supported by a wide range of City resources.
This initiative furthers the priorities developed in Where We Live NYC, the City’s fair housing plan that calls for changes to ensure every neighborhood contributes to the City’s affordable housing development goals. By allowing affordable housing development in SoHo and NoHo, the plan will offer opportunities for lower-income New Yorkers to live in these amenity-rich, high-income, disproportionately white communities – while also lowering housing pressures on surrounding neighborhoods.
Covering an area generally bounded by 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 plan updates antiquated zoning rules that were tailored for a 1970s SoHo/NoHo that has greatly changed in the last 50 years.
The Plan includes land use changes alongside a range of initiatives and investments, including:
- Sensible retail regulations: Rather than a patchwork of variances and zoning rules for a manufacturing landscape that no longer exists in SoHo/NoHo, the plan removes obsolete regulations that hurt small businesses and introduces sensible use rules that recognize its status as a major economic engine and retail destination. The Plan also includes investments to bring Small Business Service’s Storefront Startup to SoHo/NoHo to address storefront vacancies. This program pairs small businesses, including artists and creative entrepreneurs, without a physical location to vacant storefronts to help them launch and grow.
- SoHo/NoHo Arts Fund: The Plan supports the legacy of arts and culture in and around SoHo and NoHo over the long term with a new arts fund model to ensure a future stream of investments into the area’s artistic vibrancy. The SoHo/NoHo Arts Fund creates a voluntary mechanism for those living in Joint Living Work Quarters for Artists (JLWQA) who wish to convert to a legal residential use through a contribution to a neighborhood arts fund. The JLWQA program will also remain an option for certified artists in perpetuity.
- Tools to protect and enhance the historic context: New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s review and certification of appropriateness remains unchanged throughout the historic districts, which is about 85% of total rezoning area. The Plan will add height limits to the area for the first time, which will further encourage beloved loft-like structures. To enhance and protect the neighborhoods’ historic character and building forms, no towers will be allowed. The new height limits include:
- Outside of the historic districts and along Canal Street and the Bowery, “Opportunity Areas” allow increased density and a maximum height of 275 feet, in line with the existing context. In comparison, the tallest existing building in the “SoHo West” Opportunity Zone is the approximately 400-foot Telephone Building.
- Along historic district commercial corridors, including Broadway, the maximum height is 205 feet.
- In the historic cores of the project areas, maximum height is 145 feet.
- New affordable housing on nearby city-owned sites: The City will prioritize the development of affordable housing at 388 Hudson Street and 324 East 5th Street, two City-owned sites in the surrounding neighborhoods.
- Resources to support existing residents: To support existing tenants, the City will fund one or more local community organizations to conduct proactive outreach to tenants in the rezoning area and continue proactive tenant outreach via the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit’s Tenant Support Unit. The City will also fund additional staff resources within the Loft Board to support a faster process for residents who wish to converting from Interim Multiple Dwelling (IMD) to legal residential use.
- Investments in neighborhood amenities and infrastructure: The Plan includes initiatives focused on comprehensive improvements to transportation, public realm, and sanitation throughout the area, such as:
- Reconstruction and expansion of the Pike and Allen Street Malls, with potential enhancements including expanded landscaping, seating areas, lighting, protected greenways, and more.
- Improvements to Sara D. Roosevelt Park, including reopening the Stanton Street building for community use.
- Exploring the redesign of Petrosino Square and Cooper Triangle, well-used public spaces by the SoHo/NoHo communities.
- Comprehensive studies of the Broadway and Canal Street corridors for transportation and public realm improvements.
- Advancing the Commercial Waste Zone and Clean Curbs programs to address sanitation and quality of life concerns in the area.