The de Blasio administration’s push to build thousands of apartments in Soho is facing pushback from local lawmakers who say the city planning department has displayed a “troubling” lack of regard for input from neighborhood nonprofit groups.
City Councilwomen Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera said Tuesday that the Department of City Planning “has not addressed real issues raised by sincere housing and community advocates” in its rezoning proposal for the neighborhood, which critics say lacks enough truly affordable housing.
“While there has unfortunately been a fair share of fear-mongering and disrespect shown during the discussion, the outright disregard of groups like Cooper Square Committee and NoHo Bowery Stakeholders from DCP is incredibly troubling,” Chin and Rivera, two Lower Manhattan Democratic council members, said in a joint statement.
“At a time when our city is desperately in need of affordable homes — particularly in wealthy, centrally located neighborhoods where no new affordable housing has been built and no affordable units currently exist — we must do better.”
“DCP must come back with revisions so the proposal can guarantee max affordable units,” Chin said.
Currently, the blueprint for the neighborhood zoning reform includes 900 below-market-rate apartments and more than 3,000 total homes.
In response, a rep for Mayor Bill de Blasio touted the apartments offered at moderate rents that the plan would bring to the pricy neighborhood if approved.
“The Soho rezoning will finally bring affordable housing to two of the wealthiest and least accessible communities in the country,” said spokesman Mitch Schwartz.
“We wouldn’t want to move forward without giving a voice to all the stakeholders who care about the community,” he added. “We’re grateful for the input, and we’re excited to continue the thorough public review process this plan deserves.”
Under the city’s proposal, the rezoning area is between Canal Street and Astor Place and between Sixth Avenue and the Bowery.
It includes three “housing opportunity zones” where developers would be able to build new apartments, as well as a “commercial corridor” between Broadway and Lafayette Street where retail would be legalized.
Moses Gates, vice president for housing and neighborhood planning at the Regional Plan Association, told The Post the city can and should modify the Soho blueprint to ensure the largest amount of income-targeted housing units are built, not office buildings.
“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,” he explained.
“The intention from the advocates and the city is to increase the amount of affordable housing and mixed-income housing in the neighborhood,” he added. “That goal is, to some extent, threatened by the allowable commercial densities as part of this rezoning. That’s the concern that needed to be addressed.”
Vicki Been, deputy mayor of housing and economic development, said last year that the rezoning process moving forward was driven in part by the coronavirus pandemic economic downturn and anti-police brutality protests ignited by a Minneapolis cop killing George Floyd.
“The pandemic and the movement for racial justice make clear that all neighborhoods must pull their weight to provide safe, affordable housing options,” Been said in October 2020.
Some neighborhood activists aren’t buying it.
A recent public meeting on the Soho rezoning descended into chaos, as fuming local residents repeatedly interrupted a Department of City Planning official who was presenting the de Blasio administration’s rezoning initiative.
“Falsely framing the SoHo/NoHo Rezoning as a ‘social justice’ plan, the mayor is doing injustice to communities of color in Chinatown and the LES,” said Zishun Zing of the Chinatown Working Group.