Manhattan Community Board Shoots Down SoHo Rezoning

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Manhattan Community Board 2 almost unanimously rejected the city’s controversial rezoning of SoHo and NoHo, two of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, at its Monday night meeting.

Only one member of the board voted in favor of the rezoning, with the rest approving a resolution that slammed the plan for not creating enough affordable housing in the neighborhoods.

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“It fails to achieve its affordable housing objectives and fails to protect against the displacement of low-income tenants,” board member Anita Brandt said during the meeting. “The mayor’s plan must provide significantly more affordable housing.”

The board’s resolution called for the rezoning plan to include city-funded “100 percent” affordable housing developments, redevelop existing properties into affordable units and revise the requirements for new private developments to “allow for a far greater number of affordable units with lower medium incomes.”

Community boards only act on an advisory basis in the city and the plan will now move to Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for a vote, who said during Monday night’s meeting that she has “not made any decisions” about the rezoning yet.

“This proposal will finally bring affordable housing and economic opportunities for all New Yorkers to two of the wealthiest and most desirable communities in the country,” Joe Marvilli, a spokesperson for the Department of City Planning, said in a statement. “DCP will review the Community Board’s recommendation and is committed to working with all stakeholders to advance this plan for a more affordable and equitable SoHo and NoHo.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to update SoHo and NoHo’s 1960s-era zoning code to pave the way for up to 3,200 new apartments, a quarter of which would be affordable, and new retail development.

Local community groups the SoHo Alliance and the Broadway Residents Coalition hit the city with a lawsuit in April that aimed to stop the start of the typically seven-month approval process for rezonings. They argued that meetings for the proposal must be held in-person, not over Zoom, and the city didn’t give enough community notice that the review process was starting.

A judge dismissed the case earlier this month, ruling that the city “demonstrated that they fulfilled their ministerial duty” to notify the local community board.

The proposal hit another stumbling block this month, when local New York City Council members Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera sent a letter calling on the city to rework the rezoning to “guarantee the most affordable housing possible.”

Any delay to the land-use review process could push the rezoning past de Blasio’s term, but those in favor of it have some hope as mayoral favorite Eric Adams previously voiced his support for the plan.

Nicholas Rizzi can be reached at nrizzi@commercialobserver.com.