By BOBBIE BELL
Despite opposition from local SoHo and NoHo residents and preservationists, Mayor Bill de Blasio received more support on Thursday for endorsing plans to rezone the area, a manufacturing neighborhood turned hot commodity to local artists and then a predominantly wealthy, white demographic.
Jumping on the rezone bandwagon were most if not all the rumored and declared candidates for the mayor’s job in next year’s election, including City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and — the latest to throw her hat in the ring — former de Blasio aide Maya Wiley.
“Whoever the next mayor is will have to have a comprehensive plan for not just affordable, but income targeted housing, because everything is affordable to someone,” said Williams at a virtual town hall Wednesday evening. “Housing is a crisis, it’s expensive, it’s segregated.
Opponents of the plan, however, argue that it would destroy the character of the neighborhood by introducing buildings that would tower over the cast iron 19th Century gems and low-rise edifices that dot the landscape and would serve as a boon to developers who would provide only about 25 percent of “affordable” units while filling their buildings with luxury apartments to make the project profitable. This follows the pattern set in similar plans.
But many observers and local officials praised the plan as finally putting affordable housing units into wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods where the quality of life in more congenial.
To those that oppose rezoning in the area, Sheena Kang, analyst with the Citizens Housing and Planning Committee hinted to the Brooklyn News Service that the proposal was still to0 far from a reality.
, “There is nothing to argue about yet,” she said. ” We are just getting to the point when we can argue.”
Leaders at Open New York, an independent advocate for affordable and desegregated housing, also lauded the plan. Board member Will Thomas noted that de Blasio “has a lot of work to do in repairing his legacy” as a progressive who came to office vowing to end “a tale of two cities, rich and poor.”
“Any candidate will need to be explicit about telling wealthy communities they have to allow mixed income development,” said Thomas. “It is essentially the best school district in the city. It will allow low income students to attend the best schools in the country,” said Thomas.
Kang told the Brooklyn News Service that rezoning in SoHo and NoHo would “be a great way to provide a chance for low income people to live in places that are rich in resources and amenities.”
“When I think of safety, I think of security, housing, and health,” said Rachel Fee of the New York Housing Conference in the virtual meeting. “We are looking towards the next mayor for leadership to steer us towards recovery and equitable solutions for housing investment in each of our five boroughs.”