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May 17, 2021

Stroock Client Alert

By: Ross F. Moskowitz, John B. Egnatios-Beene, Raymond "Rusty" Pomeroy II, Ashley E. Doukas, Eva C. Schneider

Earlier today, the New York City Planning Commission (“CPC”) held a public review session on the much-anticipated City-sponsored application to rezone the SoHo/NoHo neighborhoods,1 officially sending this application into the public review process, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP”)2. In this Client Alert, we provide an overview of the major zoning changes that will be coming to SoHo/NoHo if this application is approved, and provide the status and timeframe of the application going forward.

SoHo/NoHo Rezoning:

In order to rezone the SoHo/NoHo neighborhoods, this City-sponsored application seeks: (1) a zoning map amendment to replace all or portions of existing M1-5A and M1-5B districts with medium-to-high density mixed-use districts and establish a new Special Soho-NoHo Mixed Use District (“SNX”) and (2) a zoning text amendment to establish regulations for the Special SNX District and to apply the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (“MIH”) program to the Special SNX District. 

The SoHo/NoHo Rezoning will result in five core changes to the existing zoning: 

  • Map paired manufacturing and residential districts to allow for a mix of residential, commercial, manufacturing, and community facility uses;
  • Establish the new Special SNX District, containing three density tiers: (i) Historic Cores; (ii) Corridors; and (iii) Opportunity Areas;
  • Contextual building envelopes to shape built forms;
  • Designate MIH Areas to require permanently affordable housing in SoHo/NoHo neighborhoods; and 
  • Sustain SoHo/NoHo’s cultural legacy by promoting public presence of the arts.

The Special SNX District proposed will be mapped as follows:

0517-Client-Alert-Graphic



















 

Bulk:

Opportunity Areas will be mapped with M1-6/R10 zoning, providing the following bulk regulations:

  • Residential Floor Area Ratio (“FAR”) of 12.0
  • Commercial and Manufacturing FAR of 10.0
  • Community Facility FAR of 6.5
  • Base Heights between 125-155 feet
  • Maximum Height of 275 feet

Historic Corridors will be mapped with M1-5/R9X zoning, providing the following bulk regulations:

  • Residential FAR of 9.7
  • Commercial FAR of 5.0Manufacturing FAR of 6.0
  • Community Facility FAR of 6.5
  • Base Heights between 85-145 feet
  • Maximum Height of 205 feet

Historic Cores will be mapped with M1-5/R7X zoning, providing the following bulk regulations:

  • Residential FAR of 6.0
  • Commercial and Manufacturing FAR of 5.0
  • Community Facility FAR of 6.5
  • Base Heights between 60-105 feet
  • Maximum Height of 145 feet

Residential Use:

Residential use will be permitted as-of-right—both commercial-to-residential conversions and new construction will generally be permitted.  In addition, MIH will be required in most instances of new residential floor area, and the text proposes two options for MIH development:  (1) 25% of residential floor area must be for affordable housing units for residents with incomes averaging 60% Average Median Income (“AMI”), and (2) 30% of residential floor area must be for affordable housing units for residents with incomes averaging 80% AMI.  Importantly, the MIH requirement applies to any zoning lot with 12,500 square feet of residential capacity (not built capacity).  To address physical building constraints that may exist with conversions, there will be an option to make a payment-in-lieu of providing affordable apartments if the Board of Standards and Appeals finds that the existing building configuration imposes certain constraints (e.g., deep, narrow or otherwise irregular floor plates). 

Joint Living Work Quarters for Artists will be allowed to continue to exist, with the option to transition to residential use, paired with a SoHo/No/Ho Artists Fund Contribution.  As well, the text has expanded home occupation provisions to accommodate existing and evolved live-work models to reflect the new realities since COVID-19. These provisions will be applicable to all new and converted residential units.

Mixed-Use:

As illustrated in the map above, each residential district is paired with a light manufacturing district to allow for mixed uses.  The zoning changes will allow for (in addition to residential use described above), a wider range of commercial uses, including varied retail, food and beverage, and hybrid uses (such as maker-retail).  Non-residential uses are permitted above and on the same story as residual uses.  Further, non-residential uses are required along certain primary street frontages to activate street corridors. Importantly, existing job-generating floor area (including office, commercial and manufacturing) must be preserved in buildings that are 60,000 square feet or larger.  Residential use in such buildings will only be permitted subject to a chair certification process.  Lastly, the zoning changes will also permit a wider range of community-oriented uses such as schools, libraries, community centers, museums, non-profit galleries and theaters.  

Arts:The SoHo/No/Ho Artists Fund will be allocated by the Department of Cultural Affairs or a nonprofit designee, and the contribution rate will be set at $100 per square foot, and will increase over time per CPI.  The fund will be used for programming, projects and facilities that promote the public presence of the arts within the Special SNX District.

The Stroock Land Use and Environmental Team will be diligently following this rezoning throughout ULURP and updating clients on timing, changes in the text, the political climate, and the likelihood of success.

 

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1 This rezoning is facing a lawsuit brought by community groups in opposition.  Petitioners sought a temporary restraining order (“TRO”), which was denied. The Judge, however, signed the order to show cause and set the return date and briefing schedule, allowing the lawsuit to proceed.  Stroock will continue to follow this lawsuit and provide updates to clients.

2 ULURP is a statutory five-to-seven month process that requires review and advisory recommendations by the Community Board and Borough President, review and vote by the City Planning Commission, and review and vote by the City Council.

 
For More Information:

Ross F. Moskowitz
John B. Egnatios-Beene
Raymond “Rusty” N. Pomeroy II    
Ashley E. Doukas
Eva C. Schneider

 

This Stroock publication offers general information and should not be taken or used as legal advice for specific situations, which depend on the evaluation of precise factual circumstances. Please note that Stroock does not undertake to update its publications after their publication date to reflect subsequent developments.