Light manufacturing zones, like SoHo’s, are permitted to contain manufacturing and complementary uses as-of-right (without review from the NYC Department of City Planning). Specifically, M1-5B allows: manufacturing uses, like textile spinning, wholesaling, and printing plants; and office, retail, and JLWQA units above the ground floor only. The zoning generally does not permit retail use on the ground floor and residential uses are not allowed anywhere in the building.
Despite not being allowed by the M1-5B zoning, retail uses on the ground floor can locate in SoHo through the following means:
- A special permit, which is a discretionary action granted by the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) that allows a use that is not otherwise authorized. Large Retail Establishments, Good Faith Marketing Effort, and Preservation special permits are all ways to locate retail in SoHo.
- A variance, which is a discretionary action granted by the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to relieve a property owner of an undue hardship caused by zoning.
- Grandfathering, which refers to allowing an active use that pre-dates current zoning regulation to remain in place.
Residential uses can locate in SoHo through the Loft Law or the Preservation special permit (see Question 6).
Both retail and residential uses can also locate in SoHo by creative legal interpretations of the Zoning Resolution or by mitigating the risk of non-compliance via contractual stipulations.
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