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September 11, 2018 12:00 AM

Process aims to lift manufacturing codes evaded or ignored for decades

Buck Ennis

The de Blasio administration plans to announce a rezoning effort in SoHo and NoHo this fall—including a strategy to minimize controversy. It may be wishful thinking.

The Department of City Planning, working with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilwoman Margaret Chin, seeks to tackle a longstanding issue in the neighborhoods: Ground-floor retail and residential apartments have become common, but they are not allowed under industrial zoning rules still on the books in SoHo and part of NoHo. The discrepancy has complicated property ownership and led to unpredictable growth.

Rectifying the mismatch entails changing the manufacturing zoning to allow more uses as-of-right—without special approval. The department, however, plans to solicit public input first to get a sense of what stakeholders would like to see before drafting specific proposals, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the plans.

Officials might eventually convene a steering committee similar to those that shaped the rezonings of the Garment District and Midtown East; they ultimately traversed the public-review process. However, a spokesman said the public engagement process has yet to be hashed out, though the department has completed a study of the area.

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