City Planning approves Soho rezoning, opponents call foul

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The city planning commission has given its backing to a plan
to rezoning parts of Soh, Noho and Chinatown.

Chair Anita Laremont said the rezoning would make way for some 3,500 new homes – 900 of them affordable – created through the city’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program which requires developers to include affordable housing in rezoned neighborhoods.

ANITA LAREMONT

“The SoHo/NoHo neighborhood plan stands for the idea that,
with focused planning and robust public dialogue, all neighborhoods across the
City can play a part in the solutions to the planning challenges that we, as
New Yorkers, face,” said Laremont.

“By bringing flexible and modern zoning to these historic
mixed-use neighborhoods, the plan significantly advances NYC’s equity and inclusivity
goals, helps address our severe and ongoing housing crisis, and serves to speed
NYC’s economic recovery.”

In her first major announcement since taking over as
Director of City Planning for Marissa Lago last month, Laremont said she
believes the rezoning will prove “historic preservation and continued growth
can be mutually beneficial.”

Opponents, however, have called the vote “shameful.”

ANDREW BERMAN

Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation,
said, “What [this] will do is threaten hundreds of units of rent-regulated
affordable housing in these neighborhoods, driving out the considerable number
of older, lower-income, longtime residents. It will push out the struggling
smaller independent and arts-related businesses of the neighborhood, while
rewarding the Mayor’s developer-donor friends with a massive giveaway of the
city’s real estate and an almost unimaginable windfall.

“It will target Chinatown for the largest upzonings, oversized
development, and displacement, and introduce a flood of oversized luxury
condos, big-box chain stores, corporate office towers, and high-end hotels to
all three neighborhoods.

“It will make these neighborhoods richer and more expensive,
and less diverse and less equitable, in spite of the Mayor’s dishonest
posturing to the contrary. It’s now up to the City Council to do the right
thing and say no to this wrongheaded, destructive plan.”

All 11 commissioners present at today’s vote were in favor of the rezoning, which some proponents say will bring more low- and middle-income residents into the wealthy neighborhood, unlike previous MIH rezonings that have been blamed for accelerating gentrification in already low-income neighborhoods such as East New York and the Bronx.

The rezoning plan now goes to the City Council for a public
hearing and vote.

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