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Op-Ed: SoHo and NoHo Need a Zoning Overhaul

Two SoHo residents argue that outdated zoning holds the Manhattan neighborhoods back, requiring special permits or variances for many current residential and commercial uses.
June 2, 2019, 5am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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JJ Farq

A co-op owner and an art gallery owner, both residents of SoHo, make the case for an overhaul to the present zoning of SoHo and NoHo. "Our zoning hasn't been updated in almost 50 years, but the neighborhood has clearly changed," they write. "As a result, the majority of residents and small businesses must have special permits or variances. This is no way to bolster a district."

The last commercial zoning overhaul took place in the 1970s, "when wholesale textile and manufacturing companies were already on their last legs. Ground-floor retail is largely illegal without a special permit." Residents who aren't certified artists also require special permitting. 

The authors make a case that brick-and-mortar retail businesses need all the help they can get. But onerous permitting requirements make it difficult for them to operate in SoHo and NoHo. "To support this existing economic engine, we must create a fair, straightforward environment. In this difficult time for retailers, business owners need flexibility."

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Published on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 in Crain's Business New York
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