First Housing Development Under SoHo Rezoning Proposed for 277 Canal

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SoHo may soon be getting its first batch of housing under the controversial neighborhood rezoning passed in December 2021, Commercial Observer has learned.

United American Land is filing plans with the New York City Department of Buildings Monday for a 13-story, 100-unit, mixed-use building at 277 Canal Street, site of the first movie theater in the area.

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The developer intends for 25 percent of the building to be affordable under the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing laws, and has lined up architect Morris Adjmi to design the structure out of textured brick, metal and terracotta.

United American Land plans to preserve the first three floors of the existing building, which is protected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), while going through hearings with the city agency.

Albert Laboz, principal of United American Land, says it is taking a “neighborly” approach to winning over the community, much of which staunchly opposed the rezoning.

“When you go before the [LPC], they really only look at two things: context and design,” Laboz told CO. “The use? All that has been litigated already. … Of course, there are political influences and a lot of noise that will go along with this, but I think the design, I think it’s appropriate, I think it’s contextual, and it will bring 25 units that are much needed in the neighborhood.”

Out of the 100 units, there would be 20 studios, 45 one-bedrooms and 35 two-bedrooms. On the retail end, there would be 10,000 square feet of space. In total, the finished property would comprise 100,000 square feet and rise 145 feet tall.

While 277 Canal is not among SoHo’s typical cast-iron buildings, Laboz believes the 1910 facade is worth preserving, with the interior floors renovated. Manhattan’s Community Board 2, which adopted a resolution against the rezoning July 2021, will need to approve the project, and LPC will begin its review this summer.

It would not be the first landmarked building United American Land has repositioned — with praise from preservationist groups.

They’ve also revamped 321 Canal Street, 287 Broadway (alternatively known as 55 Reade Street) and 505 Fulton Street in Brooklyn. The firm currently owns 20 properties in Lower Manhattan, including 53 Howard Street, a department store built in 1857 which it converted to apartments with retail tenants such as The Guild and La Mercerie.

Whether 277 Canal will be a point of friction from community groups that formed during the rezoning process and mired the initiative — launched during former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s final term in office — in legal disputes remains to be seen

For one thing, New York University’s lawsuit to overturn aspects of the rezoning is still ongoing.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.