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A Message from the Executive Director re: Envision SoHo/NoHo planning process

Dear SoHo Broadway Community,

Over the past few weeks, there has been a significant amount of press and communication within the community about the Envision SoHo/NoHo planning process led by City Planning, Manhattan Borough President Brewer and Council Member Chin (the “Process Partners”). One of my top priorities as the leader of the SoHo Broadway Initiative is to remain impartial and to represent the body, and not any single interest or constituency.

SoHo Broadway Initiative staff, a committed group of board members and our consultant, spent several years working to produce the SoHo Zoning Guidebook which we finalized and published last year. The Guidebook details the facts, not opinions, which clearly demonstrate:

  1. A mismatch between the current zoning (manufacturing, retail above the ground floor, office and artists as residents) and the current predominant uses (residential, retail and office).
  2. A neighborhood that has effectively been spot rezoned by special permits, variances, grandfathered uses and non-conforming uses.
  3. A tension between businesses and residents caused by each group having different needs and priorities.

Now the question is where do we go from here?  

The Process Partners have commenced a process called Envision SoHo/NoHo to plan for the future of these neighborhoods seeking feedback from stakeholders. This process will lead to a series of recommendations that might include not only changes to the zoning but also important changes in law, enforcement, and public policy including how space is designed and used that could improve the community for those who live in, work in and visit SoHo and NoHo.

Despite a chaotic public Open House on February 6, those who participated in the meeting shared a great deal of feedback that will guide the process as it moves forward.

We now have a unique opportunity to have a voice in that process and a chance to help shape the future of SoHo and NoHo. I strongly urge that members of the SoHo and NoHo communities participate in the process, be open-minded and work with each other toward progress.

It may surprise you to know that, despite the recent discourse and press, the vast majority of SoHo Broadway community members, including residents and commercial property owners:

The Initiative is committed to a fair and equitable process that works for the greater community without favoring any one group over the others and strengthens the neighborhood for the future. While many details need to be discussed, please use the process to have those discussions. Let us be leaders and a productive voice as this process progresses.

Public Meeting on Thursday, February 28: The Process Partners will be hosting the 2nd public meeting on the topic of “Defining Mixed Use” on Thursday, 2/28 from 6pm to 8:15pm at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, 1 Centre Street, North Wing Mezzanine.

If you have concerns that you would like to discuss and/or express, I urge you to contact me directly to discuss how best and effectively to have them heard.


Mark Dicus

P.S. Here are links to some resources that I hope you find helpful:

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