Pols Say SoHo Rezoning Needs to ‘Guarantee’ More Affordable Housing


The controversial rezoning of SoHo and NoHo hit another stumbling block after getting past a lawsuit aimed to kill the process.

New York City Council members Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera called on the city to rework the plans to “guarantee the most affordable housing possible” and address “serious concerns” raised by locals.

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“The fact remains that [the Department of City Planning (DCP)] has not addressed real issues raised by sincere housing and community advocates,” Chin and Rivera said in a joint statement this week. “We call on DCP to return to the table now — not in 3 or 4 months — with real plans for how the SoHo-NoHo plan can guarantee the most affordable housing possible for our communities.”

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio said City Hall was “grateful for the input” about the plan.

“The SoHo rezoning will finally bring affordable housing to two of the wealthiest and least accessible communities in the country,” Mitch Schwartz, a spokesperson for de Blasio, said in a statement. “We wouldn’t want to move forward without giving a voice to all the stakeholders who care about the community. We’re grateful for the input, and we’re excited to continue the thorough public review process this plan deserves.”

Despite vocal opposition from longtime residents of SoHo and NoHo, two of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, de Blasio wants to update the area’s 1960s rezoning 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 aimed at stopping the start of the typically seven-month approval process for rezonings. They argued that meetings for the project must be held in-person and not over Zoom, and that the city didn’t give enough notice to the community that it was starting the review process.

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.

A public meeting last month turned south as locals booed city representatives and said the neighborhood needed more than the 900 affordable units in the plan, not luxury units, the New York Post reported. Community activists also took issue with a DCP official, who said during a meeting earlier this month that the locals’ alternative zoning plan “encourages people to engage in magical thinking that is not rooted in reality,” The Village Sun reported.

In their statement, Chin and Rivera said the “outright disregard” for some local groups during the process from DCP “is incredibly troubling to us,” and the plan “must do better” to create more affordable housing.

While any further delay to the land-use review process could’ve doomed the rezoning before, as it could push it past de Blasio’s term, mayoral favorite Eric Adams previously voiced his support for the plan.

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