Why SoHo/NoHo?

WHY SOHO/NOHO NOW?

SoHo and NoHo are dynamic mixed-use neighborhoods with an established residential population, strong office markets with growing creative firms, and one of the city’s biggest retail centers. At the same time, the existing M1-5A and M1-5B zoning, established nearly five decades ago to balance the needs of a declining manufacturing sector and the artist community, presents increasing challenges to the continued vitality of SoHo/NoHo.

Shaped by an increased mix of residents and businesses, SoHo and NoHo have seen an unsustainable volume of individual land use applications and approvals. Evidence of this cumulative effect of permit approvals, as well as changes brought by a modernizing economy, made it clear to many residents, local stakeholders, elected officials and the City that we needed to think strategically about the types of uses best suited for the future of SoHo and NoHo, and how to comprehensively address neighborhood-wide planning issues and concerns.

After initial research on existing land use, demographic, and economic conditions of the neighborhoods, in January 2019, Borough President Brewer, Department of City Planning Director Lago and Council Member Chin announced the start of the community engagement process. The goal of the engagement is to deepen understanding of existing neighborhood conditions and needs of the people who live, work and create in SoHo and NoHo, and encourage an informed public dialogue that is focused on neighborhood priorities and planning strategies for the future of the two neighborhoods.


NEIGHBORHOOD BACKGROUND

The M1-5A and M1-5B districts (“M1-5A/B”), mapped exclusively in SoHo/NoHo, are unique manufacturing districts created in 1971 to balance the needs of a shrinking manufacturing sector and the growing artist community.

As is the case for most manufacturing districts, in M1-5A/B residential use is generally prohibited while priority is given to light industrial and commercial uses. Unlike typical manufacturing districts, M1-5A/B has special provisions to address unique conditions in SoHo/NoHo that existed throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. These special regulations include the prohibition on certain commercial uses, such as retail, on ground floors of buildings and reservation of these ground floors for manufacturing and heavy commercial uses that service the industrial sector, as well as the allowance for “live-work” as a manufacturing use provided that the space is occupied by artists certified by the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (i.e. Use Group 17D Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists).

SoHo and NoHo have changed in the nearly 50-year period since the adoption of the unique M1-5A/M1-5B zoning. Today, SoHo/NoHo is home to:

  • About 8,000 New Yorkers, representing a more significant residential presence than in typical manufacturing districts;
  • More than 51,000 jobs, primarily in office, retail, accommodation, food, and other non-industrial sectors;
  • Major creative centers- over 25% of the area’s total jobs are in the creative industries;
  • Major economic drivers - SoHo’s retail sales rank second citywide among shopping districts, and 10th nationally.


WHY SOHO/NOHO NOW?

SoHo and NoHo are dynamic mixed-use neighborhoods with an established residential population, strong office markets with growing creative firms, and one of the city’s biggest retail centers. At the same time, the existing M1-5A and M1-5B zoning, established nearly five decades ago to balance the needs of a declining manufacturing sector and the artist community, presents increasing challenges to the continued vitality of SoHo/NoHo.

Shaped by an increased mix of residents and businesses, SoHo and NoHo have seen an unsustainable volume of individual land use applications and approvals. Evidence of this cumulative effect of permit approvals, as well as changes brought by a modernizing economy, made it clear to many residents, local stakeholders, elected officials and the City that we needed to think strategically about the types of uses best suited for the future of SoHo and NoHo, and how to comprehensively address neighborhood-wide planning issues and concerns.

After initial research on existing land use, demographic, and economic conditions of the neighborhoods, in January 2019, Borough President Brewer, Department of City Planning Director Lago and Council Member Chin announced the start of the community engagement process. The goal of the engagement is to deepen understanding of existing neighborhood conditions and needs of the people who live, work and create in SoHo and NoHo, and encourage an informed public dialogue that is focused on neighborhood priorities and planning strategies for the future of the two neighborhoods.


NEIGHBORHOOD BACKGROUND

The M1-5A and M1-5B districts (“M1-5A/B”), mapped exclusively in SoHo/NoHo, are unique manufacturing districts created in 1971 to balance the needs of a shrinking manufacturing sector and the growing artist community.

As is the case for most manufacturing districts, in M1-5A/B residential use is generally prohibited while priority is given to light industrial and commercial uses. Unlike typical manufacturing districts, M1-5A/B has special provisions to address unique conditions in SoHo/NoHo that existed throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. These special regulations include the prohibition on certain commercial uses, such as retail, on ground floors of buildings and reservation of these ground floors for manufacturing and heavy commercial uses that service the industrial sector, as well as the allowance for “live-work” as a manufacturing use provided that the space is occupied by artists certified by the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs (i.e. Use Group 17D Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists).

SoHo and NoHo have changed in the nearly 50-year period since the adoption of the unique M1-5A/M1-5B zoning. Today, SoHo/NoHo is home to:

  • About 8,000 New Yorkers, representing a more significant residential presence than in typical manufacturing districts;
  • More than 51,000 jobs, primarily in office, retail, accommodation, food, and other non-industrial sectors;
  • Major creative centers- over 25% of the area’s total jobs are in the creative industries;
  • Major economic drivers - SoHo’s retail sales rank second citywide among shopping districts, and 10th nationally.