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Manhattan Rezonings Pose Tough Challenges for Planners

The New York City Department of Planning kicked off a rezoning process for the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo earlier this month. Planning and development challenges abound.
February 18, 2019, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Manhattan, New York City, New York
Ryan DeBerardinis

The Department of City Planning, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, held the first public meetings for the rezoning of SoHo and parts of NoHo, reports Joe Anuta, "[a] process that is designed to bring relief to property owners and retailers but that could trigger community opposition."

The challenges facing the neighborhood are proof of a broken development approvals system. "Pricey condominiums and retail uses have proliferated in the area, but they are technically not allowed under the arcane manufacturing rules that still govern buildings there. To get around the strictures, businesses and residents have either flouted the laws or applied to the city for exemptions," writes Anuta.

"Updating the zoning code would allow common uses to exist as of right, providing more predictability to building owners and to tenants and other residents. However, longtime residents might bristle at the idea of giving up the permitting process—and the ability to weigh in at public hearings—for things such as new stores."

For more context on the rezoning process, see earlier coverage from September 2018.

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Published on Wednesday, February 6, 2019 in Crain's New York Business
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