City Planning Commission Public Hearing on Garment Center Rezoning Scheduled for September 26; SoHo, NoHo Rezoning on the Horizon?

September 2018

The New York City Economic Development Corporation’s (“EDC”) rezoning proposal for the Special Garment Center District is now in Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP”), having been certified on June 11, 2018. 

Originally established in 1987, the Garment Center was meant to protect the apparel manufacturing industry through various use and bulk regulations. Around that time, nearly 5,000 apparel businesses existed in the Garment Center, which occupied 20 million square-feet of space. However, today's garment workshops occupy only an estimated 700,000 square-feet, according to EDC, and the Garment Center includes a more diverse mix of businesses, offices, restaurants and hotels.

The current proposal does not change the boundaries or underlying zoning rules of the Garment Center (which predominantly consists of C6 and M1 districts), but instead modifies the Garment Center’s rules in order to:

  • Lift the preservation requirement for apparel production space
  • Limit new hotels by requiring a special permit
  • Prioritize new office and residential uses in targeted areas
  • Improve neighborhood character through new height and setback regulations

Over the summer, Manhattan Community Boards 4 and 5 voted to conditionally disapprove the proposal for a range of reasons, including their desire to implement alternative programs to preserve existing manufacturing space, establish overall building height limits and impose a hotel special permit framework that is more consistent with existing M1 district rules. 

The Community Boards’ resolutions are advisory, and it should be noted that both Boards are supportive of many of the proposal’s primary goals. The next step in the ULURP process is a City Planning Commission public hearing, scheduled for September 26, 2018. We are following this proposal and will continue to keep you posted.

SoHo/NoHo Rezoning on the Horizon?

The New York City Department of City Planning, working with the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, and local City Council Member Margaret Chin, is preparing to address the confounding zoning rules that govern SoHo and NoHo. Should the City decide to move forward with a rezoning, it could significantly alter the rules regarding legally permitted uses.

Those who follow New York City zoning have long debated the relevance of SoHo and NoHo’s use regulations, which generally do not permit residential and ground-floor retail. For example, residents in certain loft buildings are required to pass a City-mandated artist certification review, and new residential buildings are required to obtain special zoning approval and a review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission – a process that can take two years or more. In addition, ground floor retail uses throughout the widely mapped M1-5A and M1-5B districts are similarly prohibited.

At this early stage it’s unclear how far the City may be willing to go to address the perceived mismatch between zoning law and real-world requirements. It’s also an open question whether, or how, the City’s housing agenda may be implicated in the process, especially in terms of addressing the need for affordable housing.

The City could initiate a public outreach process as early as this fall, to engage residents and other interested stakeholders. We are actively following this effort and will keep you updated.

Should you have any questions, please contact:

Mitchell Korbey at +1 212 592 1483 or [email protected]

© 2018 Herrick, Feinstein LLP. This information is provided to keep clients and interested parties informed of legal developments that may affect or interest them. The information is not intended as legal advice or legal opinion and should not be construed as such.