Group Seeks to Toss Out Rule That Preserves Artist Space in Soho

Some property owners in Soho are taking aim at a decades-old zoning regulation that requires certain area lofts to house artists.

Members of a new group called the SoHo/NoHo Action Committee said they will spend the summer considering ways to change the requirement that certain units house at least one city-certified artist.

"It's really a weird leftover from the past that's just not relevant today," said Dan Pelson, a resident of Soho.

He said the neighborhood has transformed since it was an artist haven, and now property owners are having a hard time selling their apartments or getting loans because of the rule.

Bill Downey, who's lived in Soho for 40 years, said he doesn't feel sorry for more recent arrivals.

"Anyone who's a non-artist who bought within the last decade or 15 years probably had to sign an agreement that any difficulties arising from their lack of certification were their own responsibility," he said.

Group members said they'll spend the summer considering potential ways to change the zoning of the area. They plan to make specific proposals in the Fall.