By Hadassa Kalatizadeh
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is withholding her crucial support for the SoHo/NoHo rezoning plan.
As reported by Crain’s NY, Brewer announced that city Hall’s rezoning proposal has “too many challenges.” On Thursday evening, she said city officials need to need to do better, and address several important issues. She said she wants developers to be given subsidies when they exceed the city’s affordable housing guidelines. She also wants protections added for low-end tenants as well as preservation for the historic district. “I stand ready to continue to work with the Planning Commission, the [City] Council, and to engage the community and stakeholders in efforts to improve this proposal,” said Brewer, who reaches her term limit for Borough President this year.
For months, local community boards have ardently voted against the rezoning, claiming that it was gentrification and would lead low-income tenants to be displaced, without adding a substantial amount of affordable housing to the neighborhood. Back in April, two of the community groups sued, contending that the city did not give the community ample notice regarding the process. The case was dismissed in July. Brewer has sided with the local groups. Councilwomen Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera have also criticized the Department of City Planning for not concentrating their efforts in attaining more affordable housing and not working in unison with local community groups for the rezoning.
As per Crain’s, the city’s planned rezoning of SoHo and NoHo would span from Sixth Avenue and West Broadway to the west, Lafayette Street and the Bowery to the east, Houston Street and Astor Place to the North, and Canal Street on the south. It would facilitate the construction of 3,500 housing units, of which 900 would be affordable.
“SoHo looks a lot different today than it did as a manufacturing and industrial hub, but its zoning laws are exactly the same,” said Mitch Schwartz, spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Those laws have squeezed small businesses and excluded low-income families for too long. The public process is ongoing, and we’re proud to work with all the local elected officials to make sure the final plan reflects our shared goals.”
Over the past few years, rezoning proposals all over the city have faced much opposition. Rezoning plans for parts of Bushwick in Brooklyn, and Southern Boulevard in the Bronx have been scrapped due to similar neighborhood resistance. Rezoning for Inwood was just approved after an arduous legal battle.