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City could rezone Soho to lift dated industrial rules

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The neighborhood’s last zoning amendment was in 1971

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The de Blasio administration is working on a proposal to rezone Soho and Noho to replace a dated industrial law that restricts ground-floor retail and residential apartments. The rezoning effort would allow for certain more uses as-of-right, without special approval, reports Crain’s.

The neighborhood’s last zoning amendment was in 1971, when the city legalized live-work spaces for artists that increasingly became, as a result of the decline of manufacturing jobs and increased vacant buildings. In 1982, New York State passed the Loft Law, which allowed provided eviction protections from some tenants occupying spaces illegally.

The Department of City Planning, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council member Margaret Chin, are leading the charge and are planning to solicit public input on the rezoning, before drafting a proposal. However, not all residents are thrilled about the plan. “Having zoning that doesn’t align with the predominant uses of a neighborhood puts a strain on residents, property owners, businesses, and city agencies,” said executive director of the Soho Broadway Initiative Mark Dicus, in a statement to Crain’s.

There is also concern that the rezoning could result in increased housing, though the city hasn’t made any mention of increasing density. Soho was given landmark status in 1973, so rezoning for density wouldn’t be a simple process.

The Department of City Planning has completed a study of the area and the public engagement process is in the works.