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

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Buildings in Soho. Buildings in Soho. (Jenchapter3/flickr)

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.

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Comments [2]

Jason from Brooklyn

During the 70's a nd 80's New York City had a vibrant and diverse community of artists who eventually created some of the most important art, literature, theater, film, and dance this country has ever seen. The creation of this art in NYC was largely due to one extremely important factor: RENT CONTROL and RENT STABILIZATION. Artists could work part-time jobs to cober their rent while having enough to work hard on their art...making NYC the greatest city in the world.

The continued war on rent control and the subsequent ousting of artists has created great stagnation in New York art. In fact, it has ironically become a city of upscale galleries and art museums that is antagonistic to artists.

Jun. 08 2011 06:44 PM
Frances from New Mexico

Newer residents of Soho (i.e. RICH) wouldn't be living in Soho (Tribeca, Meatpacking District, Williamsburg, etc.) if it weren't for the artists who pioneered each of these neighborhoods and made them attractive to others with 'day jobs'. Would these people move to Soho in the 60s? Williamsburg in the 70s?

Buck up and allow an artist to live in your building.

Jun. 08 2011 03:39 PM

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