Too Much Commercial Zoning for Affordable Housing in SoHo's Controversial Rezoning Plan?

Mayor Bill de Blasio is crossing the finish line of his time in office at the same time as one of the most controversial rezoning processes of his administration.

July 22, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Manhattan Retail

JJ Farq / Shutterstock

Sam Raskin reports on the latest back and forth between neighborhood advocates, local lawmakers, and the Mayor's Office surrounding a controversial rezoning process underway in the Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo, underway since 2018.

Of the numerous rezonings undertaken during the de Blasio administration, the Envision SoHo/NoHo process offers one of the first chances to add new residential zoning and affordable housing opportunities in a relatively affluent corner of the city. Much of the recent controversy centers on the lack of affordable housing capacity built into the current version of the plan, which would add 3,000 new housing units, with 900 below-market-rate apartments included in that total.

According to article, groups like the Cooper Square Committee and NoHo Bowery Stakeholders are pressing the city to add more affordable housing, and say the process has been marred by a "'troubling' lack of regard for input from neighborhood nonprofit groups," reports Raskin.

Moses Gates, vice president for housing and neighborhood planning at the Regional Plan Association, is quoted in the article discussing a, perhaps, surprising culprit in the plan's lack of affordable housing opportunities: an overabundance of parcels zoned for commercial development.

"We are all looking for significant affordable housing to be built, and I think the biggest concern is that the allowed commercial densities are too high, and that a rezoning intended for mixed-income housing will end up as a rezoning for office buildings," says Gates, as quoted in the article.

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