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City will hold public workshops for Soho, Noho rezoning

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The neighborhood’s last major rezoning came in 1971

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The Department of City Planning announced a detailed schedule for a session to gather feedback on a potential Soho and Noho rezoning Friday after the de Blasio administration kicked off the process earlier this month with a chaotic meeting that forced the city and elected officials to apologize.

Dozens packed into a February 6 workshop to kickstart the city’s process for a possible rezoning of the Lower Manhattan neighborhoods. Several irate attendees decried the workshop’s lack of formal presentation, no adequate seating, and no microphone to hear directions from officials.

This time around the city, which admitted it was unprepared for the last meeting’s turnout, aims for a much smoother process. The workshop titled, “Mixed-Use SoHo/NoHo: Defining Mixed-Use,” is set for February 28 at 1 Centre Street North mezzanine. Community members should arrived at 6 p.m. where they can mingle with elected officials and Department of City Planning staff.

From 6:30-7 p.m. officials will give a formal presentation on the engagement process, what to expect from the night’s meeting, and facts and figures on the residents and businesses that make up Soho and Noho.

Next, attendees will break up into groups form 7-7:45 p.m. for discussions on the neighborhoods’ non-residential uses—such as retail, office, creative industries—and strategies that can be used to support the area’s quality of life concerns beyond a rezoning. Lastly, workshop participants will have a chance to share their input and ask questions until the meeting’s close at 8:15 p.m.

The session is the first of four “thematic workshops,” according to the city. Three more are slated to take place with another scheduled for March 20 to focus on the area’s residential uses including Joint Living Work Quarters for Artists and the challenges of living in neighborhoods with a complex legacy of artists and galleries illegally occupying space in what was once a manufacturing district.

The neighborhood’s last major rezoning came in 1971 when the city legalized live-work spaces for artists. In 1982, the state passed the Loft Law, which allowed certain tenants occupying space illegally to evade eviction.

The third workshop will be held in April—determined by feedback during the first two—and the fourth is set for May and will focus on zoning tools and strategies.