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Suddenly, Chin pushes to preserve Soho/Noho artists’ housing; Law would boost fines on nonartist residents

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Nov. 9, 11:30 a.m.: Throwing a new twist into the Soho/Nono rezoning very late in the game, Councilmember Margaret Chin is now calling for steep fines for nonartists living in joint live work quarters for artists.

Her move came on the eve of Tuesday’s big public hearing on the Soho/Noho rezoning by the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. The proposal was to be discussed during the committee hearing.

On Monday, Chin introduced in the City Council a local law to amend the city’s administrative code.

“This bill would increase the penalties for using joint living work quarters for artists contrary to the requirements of the zoning resolution,” the Council’s Web site states, “including, if applicable, that the unit be occupied by an artist certified by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.”

The new regulation would hit J.L.Q.W.A. scofflaws with steep fines.

Violating the provision, the Council’s Web site says, would be “subject to a civil penalty of not less than $15,000 for the first offense and not less than $25,000 for each subsequent offense. In addition to such civil penalties, a separate monthly penalty may be imposed of $1,000 for each month that the violation is not corrected.”

One longtime Soho resident wondered if the proposed new law and its harsh fines — or merely the threat of them — would spark an “exodus” among Soho and Noho’s thousands of nonartist residents.

The current penalty is reportedly only $1,500, and there is no knowledge of it even having been enforced anytime recently.

The proposed new regulation, which reportedly “came out of the blue,” caught locals’ attention only after being published in the city government’s public record. Apparently, Chin did not deign to bounce the idea off residents first to get their input before introducing it.

Although Soho and Noho’s current zoning is J.L.Q.W.A., not everyone who lives in the districts is an artist — far from it. It’s been an open secret for years, in fact, that the city has not been enforcing the artist certification requirement.

While some scoff that the two Downtown enclaves are overrun with wealthy banker and lawyer residents, that’s not the case, locals say, noting those types are, in fact, the minority. Many of the area’s nonartist residents instead work in the fashion industry or are architects, designers, gallerists, tech workers, academians, even writers, none of which qualify to receive artist’s certification.

There are a few theories about what’s fueling Chin’s move. One idea is that she “wants to force people to accept the $100 flip tax” that would be assessed if they sell their J.L.Q.W.A. units to nonartits. The flip tax, which is generally reviled by current Soho and Noho residents, is included in the proposed rezoning. However, it would take years of fines for J.L.Q.W.A. nonconformance to equal the sale flip tax, which on average could hit loft sellers to the tune of $200,000 to $350,000. (The flip tax would, in turn, be used to create a nebulous “arts fund” that would be availalbe to recipients anywhere south of 14th Street.)

Another theory is that Chin is trying to make good on the concern she raised, along with Councilmember Carlina Rivera, during the summer that there was insufficient assurance that the Soho/Noho rezoning, if passed, would actually create any affordable housing. A system of fines for nonartist residents violating J.LQ.W.A. zoning could thus be seen as a way of preserving artists’ housing in Soho and Noho.

In August, the two politicians wrote a joint letter to the Department of City Planning, saying, in part, “Regardless of the larger issues with the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program — which the de Blasio administration has refused to review in its remaining time in office — the fact remains that D.C.P. has not addressed real issues raised [about the Soho/Noho rezoning] by sincere housing and community advocates.

“We call on D.C.P. to return to the table now — not in three or four months — with real plans for how the Soho/Noho plan can guarantee the most affordable housing possible for our communities,” Chin and Rivera said back then. “We must have real and clear direction in the next month in order to address key issues more sufficiently prior to the City Planning Commission hearings.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation, said that other tweaks to the rezoning — that may or may not have been made partly in response to Chin and Rivera’s letter — have been insufficient.

“The changes make no change whatsoever,” he said. “The changes only affect 10 out of 84 sites where the city projects affordable housing. The plan still allows developers to build more market-rate space when they don’t build affordable housing — as long as they don’t go above 25,000 square feet.”

Spefically, the allowable commercial floor area ratio, or F.A.R. — a formula that determines building size — was lowered a bit in the “opportunity zones” in the rezoning, meaning areas the city envisions for the most development, including part of Chinatown, a strip along the Bowery and the southwestern corner of Soho. The Chinatown section’s proposed F.A.R. was lowered from 10 to 8, though it’s currently only 5. The Bowery zone’s proposed F.A.R. dropped from 10 to 7, though, again is now only 5.

Berman is holding out hope that the City Council won’t push ahead with the rushed 11th-hour plan — especially since the councilmember who will succeed Chin is strongly against the rezoning.

“A huge factor is Chris Marte,” the preservationist noted. “He is the incoming councilmember and he is telling members to vote against this. We’ve already had conversations with several members and they’ve expressed to us a healthy skepticism of the plan and whether it really lives up to what the mayor has put out about it.”

As for the city’s recent rezonings, Berman said, they have only proven to make their neighborhoods more expensive instead of increasing affordability.

“Show me a neighborhood where that hasn’t been the case,” he scoffed, citing Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Hudson Yards and Long Island City, to name a few.


  1. David Thall David Thall November 28, 2021

    To put it in simple terms, if Margret Chin’s brand-new “certified artists only” massive violations increase law is passed, it will immediately make all the residential units in my JLWQA condominium unaffordable to live in, and near impossible to sell or rent.

    Why? Because no nonartist will want to buy a property that only “certified artists” are allowed to live in — especially with such an absurdly high built-in violations threat that limits them from finding tenants if they intend to make it a rental property.

    And no “artist” will be able to afford to buy, much less rent, an extremely expensive condominium residential unit and then convert it to an art studio. Makes no sense.

    FACT: This new Chin tax will literally be equivalent to more than doubling or tripling my current condo’s already very high real estate taxes. And because most potential buyers are not “certified artists,” current owners in my building — ALL of whom are NOT certified artists — will be stuck with this egregious new punitive financial burden, with no end in sight. It literally is a permanent new tax masquerading as violations.

    In other words, this bill is designed to literally destroy JLWQA property values, making existing homes too costly to live in, too expensive to rent, and near impossible to sell.

    BOTTOM LINE: Chin’s massive violations are essentially a punitive new recurring tax with no end. A tax designed to destroy property values, make it unaffordable for the current JLWQA owners to remain in their homes, or rent them to artists who can’t afford them. It’s based on a lie that only benefits her real estate developer friends.

    Chin is almost out of office, but now halfway out the door –- in the middle of the pandemic, no less –- she is suddenly hellbent on turning my home into a financial albatross –- to whose benefit, exactly?

    I get that outside real estate speculators really want to drive us out. But why do lame-duck Chin and Company want to steal all of our money first on the way out?

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 28, 2021

      This is one of the most egregious, disingenuous, and offensive arguments I have come across. First of all, the proposal will not turn anyone’s home into an albatross. The rezoning provides that JLWQA apartments can be sold to non-artists for a $100 per square foot “flip tax.” If I generously estimate your loft at 1,900 square feet (I think it is smaller) and a sale price of $3MM (it is almost certainly more.) That means you would pay a $190,000 flip tax, equal to about 6% of your sale price. Using more realistic estimates of 1,700 square feet and $3.5MM would put it at under 5%.

      And this is all because, as you admit, you and all of your fellow owners have been living illegally and exploiting a zoning loophole that was designed specifically for artists. You decided the zoning laws didn’t apply to you and, for the last 30 years, took housing that was supposed to be set aside for artists. In those 30 years, the value of your apartment–which, again, you live in illegally–has increased by probably 1,000%, if not more. Yet now you have the gall to complain that when you sell your apartment you will have to pay a small percentage into a fund set aside to support Downtown artists and claim that someone is stealing from you.

      Thank you for posting this. It isn’t common for SoHo rezoning opponents to be so clear about how selfish their motivations are.

      • David David January 13, 2022

        LESS 3025 is impressive. So little time and so much to lie about.

        LESS posts just like a Facebook hate troll obsessed with venting personal resentments and frustrations nonstop — anonymously of course. Because only a FB coward would post anonymously so much vindictive petulance — nonstop.

        In this case, LESS denies working for the real estate industry. Which leaves only one other possibility: LESS can’t afford to live in Soho, and he’s just a guy who’s really really unhappy about it. Sad.

        On the other hand, perhaps with all the dough the real estate predators are paying LESS to troll more, he’ll be able to afford to share Soho rent with a couple of roommate trolls, in one of the high-end boxes they’re about to build. Good luck with that.

        Facebook is full of trolls who are sick puppies, who have nothing else to do with their time except post on social media. Night and day.

        I mean, seriously, who in their right mind is going to spend all this time posting endlessly obsessive disinformation and wacko hatred at strangers?

        AKA: when less is not more. luck with that.

  2. Roger Laspari Roger Laspari November 23, 2021

    Every time an article about proposed rezoning or development of a park or playground comes out, the pro-development trolls show up and post the talking points like they are on salary (which they must be ). It’s silly. Every time the city does this it results in more luxury or market-rate housing and mostly benefits developers. A few years back the city “had” to give away a children’s playground on the LES to developers for the public good … they built a parking lot for luxury condos and a hotel.
    Just google “How a garden for the poor became a playground for the rich” in the NYT. The bots on here will insist the crumbs thrown to the families justify the massive developers’ profits and destruction of the neighborhood, but whatever additional low-income housing gets built will be tiny compared to the overall benefit to developers. Even the bill’s sponsors say it won’t work as drafted.

    • David Thall David Thall November 28, 2021

      “Every time an article about proposed rezoning or development of a park or playground comes out, the pro-development trolls show up and post the talking points like they are on salary (which they must be ).”


      That’s a full-time paid troll – obviously representing real estate developers – pumping out his employer’s propaganda nonstop. I mean what sane person would pander to every single commenter here – just to push their absurd agenda – to deregulate everything and build on to top of everything – over and over? So transparent.

      These outside real estate predators don’t give a damn about SoHo resident’s and the current owners who actually live here. They are relentless self-serving, greedy, BS artists. I know firsthand, I’ve lived in SoHo for 31 years.

      • LES3025 LES3025 November 28, 2021

        Unfortunately, I am not paid. I just have too much time and like to post.

        Question for you though. Are you a certified artist or have you been illegally living in a JLWQA for 31 years? I don’t think being a marketing art director qualifies (maybe I’m wrong), and your building is zoned for M1-5A/M1-5B. It seems like you exploited the lax enforcement of the rules and got an apartment that is probably worth, what, $3 million plus today? And now you’re fighting against changing the rules (the same rules you decided didn’t apply to you for the past 30 years), to prevent new people from moving there. That comes off as hypocritical to me.

  3. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 12, 2021

    Another one! Like Jimmy Durante, “I’m mortified!”

    I would remind this apartition that our immigrant grandparents weren’t “cyborg”s, and didn’t live on the Internet. In real life, the original artists and residents of Soho came here as flesh-and-blood immigrants, just like out grandparents, and we built out lives with sweat, blood and toil.

    I’ve never been a big defender of property, but if there is no rule of law, and people believe Internet fantasies, and listen to Trump and other demonic sources, we will have no society at all. The person with the biggest club can just hit the other one over the head with it, and we will have gone back to the dark ages.

    Emma Lazarus wasn’t talking about European and Asian billionaires arriving on our teeming shores, and buying condos in Soho. The rout and displacement of the people who labored for decades to make this area desirable for their investment money was not what the Statue oof Liberty was advertising.

    The “electeds” are supposed to represent the people who elected them, and not real estate developers and international investment money.

    What is a cyborg, anyway? Does it mean “creep”?

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 12, 2021

      Harry, I’m not sure what part of this you’re not getting. At the risk of oversimplifying the dynamic, if you stop construction of new apartments, then the foreign billionaires will try harder to get your apartment because there are fewer other apartments available. If you let them build a big glass box of condos that are worth more than your apartment, they will happily park their money there and would be more likely to leave you alone. Refusing to build new housing doesn’t stop rich people from buying. It just means they buy what already exists rather than something new.

      • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | November 12, 2021

        But what if the demand for luxury housing in Downtown Manhattan — in Soho, among the most coveted districts in the entire world — is off-the-charts, insatiable? Which it is! Nothing will stop the demand, not even a wave of new glass boxes for the wealthy. There are a lot of foreign oligarchs out there with money to stash in “black box” apartment buildings. This is where the carefully crafted, pro-development talking points of supply and demand fail to match up with reality — and LES3025 and Cyborg probably know that. You can keep “reading from the script,” but it doesn’t change the reality.

        • Proud NIMBY Proud NIMBY November 14, 2021

          “There are a lot of foreign oligarchs out there with money to stash in “black box” apartment buildings.”

          Thank you for attempting to educate the ill-informed trolls who have been infesting The Village Sun recently.

          When I look out from my loft in SoHo (maintenance = $1,500/month, thank you), directly across the street to the east is a beautiful loft that is occupied only once a year, for two weeks during the Christmas holidays, owned by a financier living in London.
          To the west, another loft is only occupied about three days a month, when the trophy wife prepares dinner for the guests.

          Two lofts in my small building were paid for — all cash — with Swiss Bank cheques. Clearly money laundering.

          I wonder where these two trolls originated from, what burg, and what family did they displace when they moved here?

          For the record, not a single family or working-class individual was ever displaced by a single SoHo/NoHo resident. I moved into an empty warehouse.

          On the other hand, these newbie YIMBYs –- or, more accurately, YIYBYs — Yes In YOUR BackYard – and other OpenNY trash have displaced countless working-class and POC upon their arrival into the city.

          Remember when the LES, Williamsburg, Bushwick were predominately Hispanic and poor? No longer, thanks to these gentrifying creeps.

          • LES3025 LES3025 November 14, 2021

            I don’t know how much more simply I can say this. People get displaced by new arrivers because there is not enough housing for the new arrivers to move into, so they outbid the current residents for existing housing. The solution is to build more housing, and to build it in wealthy locations near jobs rather than out in the gentrifying periphery.

            Plenty of people who moved here in the past decade would have loved to live in SoHo. But it’s illegal to build housing in SoHo and it wasn’t illegal to build housing in Williamsburg. So they built housing in Williamsburg and people moved there.

            The lack of housing is a citywide problem. It isn’t going to be solved by upzoning only small sections of the city. But if you’re going to upzone a neighborhood, it’s better and more equitable to upzone a rich, white, centrally located one like SoHo. So let’s start there and move to the other rich neighborhoods next.

          • Roger Laspari Roger Laspari November 23, 2021

            Exactly. Knocking down neighborhoods doesn’t create more low-income housing. It just creates more luxury housing stock. Look at Williamsburg, it’s now a mall with luxury buildings with swimming pools. These bots don’t say that building high-rise buildings in a historic neighborhood again will have a different result because they can’t acknowledge that these plans have been tried and failed. We’ll have the same housing crunch with even more displacement, just look at who lives in Williamsburg now.

          • LES3025 LES3025 November 23, 2021

            Roger, there will be some affordable housing built in SoHo because of MIH and other policies. But it is true that most of the housing will be market-rate housing. That is good though because we also need more market-rate housing, which is how more than half the people in the city get their housing.

            SoHo is a rich neighborhood and we should let more rich people live there. The alternative is that those rich people move to the city anyway and buy or rent housing that would otherwise go to someone else. That someone else takes housing that would have gone to another someone, until ultimately someone down the line is displaced. This is why a tenement apartment in the Lower East Side costs $2,500 per month now.

        • LES3025 LES3025 November 14, 2021

          Hey, Lincoln, thanks for engaging. Let me push back on this idea that demand is “off-the-charts, insatiable.” That’s not the case and I think there’s plenty of evidence for it.

          First, the pandemic showed that high vacancy rates mean lower rents ( “Luxury” buildings were among the hardest hit, and many of them were offering 3 or 4 months free just to get people to sign up. All clearly driven by a drop in demand.

          OK, you might say, but that’s because of the pandemic and it was just temporary. Well, look at the tower at 252 South Street. More than two years after they started selling, there are currently 59 (FIFTY-NINE!) sponsor units for sale/in contract. ( They have been pushing rent-to-own programs and other promotions to try to get people to buy. Very clear that demand is not insatiable for these luxury apartments. Foreign oligarchs are not jumping to buy all of them up.

          The same is true across the city. A New York Times article from a couple weeks ago about ultra-high-end apartments on Billionaire’s Row noted that “resales at other luxury skyscrapers along the row have not held their value” ( Apartments not holding value on resale is just another way of saying that demand is not there. They built too many apartments for billionaires and now the billionaires are taking losses on their purchases because of the increased competition.

          You don’t have to take my word for it. The real estate speculators say openly that building more housing is bad for their business. Here is a direct quote from Blackstone’s residential real estate company’s 2021 10-K: “We could also be adversely affected by overbuilding or high vacancy rates of homes in our markets, which could result in an excess supply of homes and reduce occupancy and rental rates. Continuing development of apartment buildings and condominium units in many of our markets will increase the supply of housing and exacerbate competition for residents.” It’s on page 27 right here, you can read it for yourself:

          This gets to the heart of it. New York real estate is so valuable to speculators (and demand seems so insatiable) precisely BECAUSE there is so little of it being built. They can feel comfortable parking their money here and watching their asset appreciate because they know that the city is not likely to allow construction of much new housing, which would compete with their asset and drive prices down. By opposing the development of new housing (yes, even “luxury” housing) you’re playing right into their hands.

          • Roger Laspari Roger Laspari November 23, 2021

            Only someone who works for a developer (you) would quote a statement by a developer in a developer’s offering documents as a fact. The truth is developers are lining up to support rezoning because it will make them a lot of money. They would oppose this plan otherwise. But thanks for making it clear who you are advocating for — developers!

          • LES3025 LES3025 November 23, 2021

            Roger, I didn’t quote from a developer’s offering documents. I quoted from Blackstone’s 10-K. That company is a landlord, not a developer. Rezoning and new development are bad for landlords, which is what their 10-K says. Please learn the difference between developers and landlords.

            There are a lot of times when people lie, but one of the times they tend not to is in their federal securities filings. I mean, come on, do you honestly believe that they are lying in their securities filing, risking massive fines or jail time, to say that new development is bad for them in order to do some kind of Jedi mind trick and convince people to support rezoning through reverse psychology? You do understand how absurd that would be, right?

            As I said in another comment, I don’t have any particular affinity for developers. But developers provide housing, which we need. I would prefer that quality housing be provided by the government, but that is not the world we live in.

  4. cyborg000 cyborg000 November 12, 2021

    This whole dialogue is fascinating! It reminds me of the people who aggressively push themselves onto a crowded subway, only to adamantly refuse access to those waiting at the next stop. It also reminds me of the pervasive “NIMBY” attitude of almost every property owner ever, and the justification they have for opposing more housing in their midst because of some perceived entitlement — whether hard work, luck, sweat equity, limited-income qualification, savvy investment or money burning a hole in their pocket got them in the door. Even if a new development (or even redevelopment) means maintaining the affordability they profess to support, they will stop at nothing to make sure it doesn’t happen. (See, for example,, speaking of Co-op Village.) The electeds have to oppose these rezonings to get the support of their constituencies, but they would do better to educate the electorate in what it actually means to oppose any and all development at any cost. It isn’t even about building more housing, or more affordable housing, or making existing housing more affordable, or avoiding gentrification. It comes down to what seems like an instinctual “pulling up the ladder,” as these two interlocutors put it, whenever a perceived right to property is attained, and then automatically perceived as threatened. Writ large, this is what America’s (and arguably other countries’, but we are supposed to be the one welcoming “the wretched refuse of their teeming shores”) border and immigration policies exemplify, so I guess it’s no wonder that it permeates the mass mentality.

  5. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 12, 2021

    Goodnight, LES3025.


  6. LES3025 LES3025 November 11, 2021

    Harry, I don’t know if you’re doing a bit or if this is actually how your mind works but either way it’s fascinating to me.

  7. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 11, 2021

    So I am a segregationist and a reactionary for trying to hold on to my only home? And to think, that I just got here in February…1975.

    I guess am “pulling up the ladder” on the multi-millionaire who told me that he “will destroy (my) children’s education” if I don’t sell out to him. I am excluding other fine investors and speculators from putting me “out on the street,” as our former co-op president, the absentee “investor,” promised me.

    You have already demonstrated that you don’t care about anyone, and are “not particularly interested in what residents have to say.” Are we now to believe that you, and the wealthy developers who are chomping at the bit to put me and my family” out on the street,” are interested in social justice? Did Fred Trump destroy Steeplechase Park to provide housing for people of color?

    Anything built in Soho will be built by the ultra-wealthy, and for the ultra-wealthy. It will destroy the unique architectural fabric of the neighborhood, and run roughshod over anyone who cannot afford the extraordinary prices. It will not lower anyone’s rent, anywhere… and it will not solve anyone’s housing needs… because the people who will buy the condos already have homes.

    It will displace people like me, and I already have a Notice to Cure and a Federal lawsuit to prove it. I live in a legal apartment that I own, but the Ivy League lawyer who sublets an illegal apartment next door thinks he can use a defective C of O to lay claim to our home. He doesn’t recognize the 15 open violations attached to his sublet, and leaves it to the co-op to pay the fines. You see, my neighbors are above the law.

    It is rather unsettling to find creeps like you waiting outside of our door, salivating over the room in the old factory building that my wife and I have spent many years fixing, and fighting to hold on to. It’s only a room, and it’s our only home. My wife and I have worked for many years to build it and to defend it against you and yours.

    If our home is appealing to you, and you feel I am pulling up the ladder to keep “potential residents” out, I would remind you that the deserted factory I moved into was not attractive to anyone when we got here. It is our many years of labor that created something that is desirable to you. By the way, I have no swimming pool, no cast iron, no spa, no helicopter landing pad, no runway with models.

    If you were to admit that you and your cohorts are merely greedy bastards, I would have a modicum of respect for your honesty. But to make an argument for luxury condos based on equality and social justice is truly laughable. To malign people for being white is truly exploitive.

    Your stealth missile won’t fly, because it’s made out of baloney.

  8. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 11, 2021

    Please give us your name and address, so that we can look into the possibility of “market rate” construction on your roof.

    You’re “not particularly interested in what the residents have to say” and you will not reveal your name and address. Hitler wasn’t particularly interested in what the residents of my grandfather’s town had to say, either, but at least we knew his name, and where he was coming from.

    The “value” of my loft is of no concern to you, or to the others who are dragging me through the courts. I have lived and worked here for almost 47 years, and measure the value of my home in sense, not dollars. I do not imagine that you can understand what I am talking about.

    Your callous comments are a good example of why artists, and “residents,” need protections from entities such as yourself. You are utterly shameless in your lack of concern for others, and therefore, a perfect representative of the forces that you are trying to promote.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 11, 2021

      Wow, Harry, jumping straight to Hitler because I want to build more housing in your neighborhood. Bold.

      If you want a more apt analogy to more recent anti-Semitism, you and other residents opposing new housing are like the gated communities and country clubs that used to have “No Jews (or Blacks, or Catholics, or Chinese) Allowed” policies. By fighting new housing in your neighborhood you’re excluding new potential residents and keeping out everyone except the very rich. The rezoning stands to make SoHo, currently one of the whitest neighborhoods in the city, more diverse. I’m willing to guess you and the other “artists” consider yourselves quite liberal, but you’re advocating for the same reactionary ends as segregationists of years past.

  9. Ronnie Wolf Ronnie Wolf November 11, 2021

    Thanks for stating that you don’t know all the answers.
    For goodness sake, if you are going to speak like you know “some” things it’s time to buckle down and do some research.

    If you did, you would have discovered that the open lot on Grand and Lafayette, you and others keep repeating should be a building of affordable housing, is a water tunnel!
    Trucks go into that lot and maintenance is necessary.

    Let me bring you up to date. The neighborhood, after more than 10 years, working with the City, will be getting a pseudo-park there..its one and only park.

    A park which is designed primarily for truck access.

    Come on, man…stop trying to sell yourself as someone who understands the finer details of development and housing and listen more closely to what the residents have been saying all along. You sound like you drank too much Kool-Aid and you hide behind a pseudonym. How should anyone take you seriously?

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 11, 2021

      OK, a park, great. Like I said, I don’t know the details of that lot and was making a point that it would be illegal under current zoning to build housing there, or at any lot like it, regardless what other plans there might be. There are obviously plenty of places that are suitable for additional housing in the rezoning area. I’m not in real estate so I haven’t done diligence on every potential lot.

      I’m not particularly interested in what the residents have to say when it comes to building more housing. Residents everywhere consistently oppose building more housing. Giving residents an effective veto over new housing construction is one of the primary causes of the housing shortage. Letting residents dictate where new housing gets built results in pushing the burden of development into poorer and less politically influential neighborhoods. That’s bad and I don’t support it.

      Notable that you don’t have anything to say about the points I was actually making about the ability of MIH and new construction generally to make housing more affordable. It might impact the value of your loft, though, so I get why you want to avoid that discussion.

  10. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 11, 2021


    This anonymous representative of the developers will never stop selling.

    The “market-rate housing” he is talking about is best represented by the monstrosity being constructed on your roof. How is that going to help you? It’s merely going to provide more wealth for the owner, of your building, who is already one of the wealthiest men in the world, and the developers.

    It will only have a “positive effect on the low end” when you and I are pushed out of our homes, and another owner in the low-rent district sees us coming and raises his rent.

    It seems to me that many of the new arrivals here already have other homes elsewhere. They don’t need housing, they simply need a place to invest their surplus wealth.

    If Anonymous would only reveal its address, I would propose building market-rate housing on its roof.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 11, 2021

      I welcome the construction of market-rate housing on my roof. I think it would be more cost efficient and result in greater affordability to do it in other places, but we can do both.

  11. Pete Davies Pete Davies November 11, 2021


    You write: “There are vacant lots in SoHo, like the one on Grand and Lafayette, which is in the rezoning area. I agree it would be great to build housing there, but we can’t, because it’s currently illegal. The rezoning would change that.”

    Why do you think that a rezoning of the area will make that lot at Grand & Lafayette viable for construction of Affordable Housing?

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 11, 2021

      Hey Pete, thanks for asking. I don’t know all the details of that specific lot (who owns it, why it hasn’t been developed to date, any lot-specific issues, etc.). I just raised it in response to Harry’s statement that he thought we should build housing in vacant lots, since it is a prominent vacant lot in SoHo. So if you’re asking very specifically about that lot, I might not have all the answers.

      But as for why the SoHo plan generally will help with housing affordability with properties like that, two points. First, the city is using Mandatory Inclusionary Housing for the SoHo rezoning, so a development at that lot should be subject to this program, which would include affordable housing. MIH works well in wealthy neighborhoods like SoHo where the more expensive market-rate apartments subsidize the affordable component. It does not work well in many places it has been used to date, like East New York, where the market rate is not high enough to effectively subsidize the affordable portion. In effect, when MIH is used in less-expensive neighborhoods, it becomes a 100% affordable housing policy (or, really, a no-housing policy) because only subsidized, fully affordable projects are viable. For a neighborhood like SoHo, MIH should work as intended and provide a viable path to affordable housing.

      Second, Affordable Housing (capital A, capital H, as in new, non-market-rate housing specifically intended for residents below 100% AMI) isn’t the only thing that is important if you care about housing affordability. Having a healthy and affordable housing market requires the construction of new, market-rate housing (even what people love to call “luxury” housing). As with any products (say, cars), new products aren’t usually “affordable”; used ones are. But because we do not create new housing, people who would otherwise buy/rent new housing instead take up old housing stock, driving up the price and making it less affordable. You can see it, for example, in the Lower East Side, where studio apartments in tenements that once housed poor immigrants are now renting for $2,500/month to people with six-figure incomes. Or in Co-op Village, which was built by unions in the 1950s and 1960s, but where apartments now routinely sell for more than $1 million. We actually saw a similar phenomenon with cars this past year where the production of new cars slowed due to supply-chain issues and the price of used cars skyrocketed, as people who otherwise would have bought new cars chose to buy used cars instead.

      And it’s not just anecdotal evidence. Studies show that building new market-rate housing has a positive effect on the low- and middle-income housing markets. Here’s a study (I can send a bunch more if you’re interested):

      So even if some of the housing that gets built as a result of the SoHo rezoning is 100% market rate, that is still progress toward getting the city’s housing stock to where it needs to be.

      Hope that answers your question.

  12. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 10, 2021

    Bye Bye.


  13. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 10, 2021

    The person who is suing me is neither unique, or in need of housing. She and her son, an attorney with two Ivy degrees, own millions of dollars of property elsewhere. Ironically, her late husband, and the father of the attorney, was a renowned bohemian who railed against greed and “Soho real estate killings” on cable TV.

    The former president of our co-op board claims to own 180,000 sq ft of loft space in Brooklyn and New Jersey, and boasts of collecting “millions” every month. He resides in a nifty townhouse on King Street, which he gutted and redesigned with a glass interior. He is not suffering from any scarcity that I am aware of, but told the former owners of our commercial space that he intends to “buy out the poorer ones and take over the building.” That would be me, and he has told me that I will “soon be on the street.”

    The current president of the co-op came here with millions of dollars from her husband just a few years ago, and refused to even visit us before she voted to serve me with the Notice to Cure. No scarcity there, either…and by the way, she is “Executive Director” of an arts organization.

    Another owner has lived in Boston for years, and keeps an entire floor vacant. Plenty of space!

    Yet another absentee owner lives in a San Francisco townhouse, and also keeps an entire floor vacant. Housing needs? No problem.

    The Soho rezoning you are promoting will not solve the world’s housing needs, and provide little if any housing for people who actually need it. It will merely pad the pockets of luxury developers, displace “the poorer ones” and provide pied-a-terre investment opportunities for the kind of people who have served me with a Notice to Cure and a Federal lawsuit.

    Considering how ridiculous, and how harmful your proposals are, I can understand why you wish to remain anonymous.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 10, 2021

      Not sure if you’re being purposefully obtuse, but when I said “People are much greedier when a resource is scarce,” that doesn’t mean the greedy people are victims of scarcity. In fact the opposite is mostly true. All the people you describe are beneficiaries of the scarcity because they own the scarce resources. They own existing housing in constrained housing markets. That drives up the value of their asset. It makes them act selfishly to maintain that scarcity and, as a result, their value. All of your enemies (except me I suppose) surely oppose building new housing because that would decrease their own property values. Sounds pretty greedy to me.

  14. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 10, 2021

    I do have one more comment, regarding my use of the word “greed.”

    Greed is defined as an “intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food.” …. “mercenaries who had allowed greed to overtake their principles.”

    When neighbors are willing to harm neighbors, to lie, to deceive and to lay false claim to someone else’s home, I would define their actions as being “greedy,” perhaps for want of a better word.

    What has happened to me is certainly related to the original protections for artists provided by the loft laws and the JLWQA. The City promised us that if we provided our sweat labor, and rebuilt, and reimagined a deserted and seemingly worthless zone of Lower Manhattan, we would be protected from exactly the kind of rampant greed that my family and I are being subjected to. The value that we provided to the City has now been amplified to the point where we cannot just live in our homes without having too define our lives according to the monetary aspirations of others.

    Soho rezoning is foolish, in that it will destroy the beauty of our legacy buildings, which are unique to this area, and have recreated its value as a commercial zone; but it is also cruel, because it will codify demolition and displacement.

    The only motive for developers is profit. An “intense desire” for profit has no relation to principle, unless responsible parties step in and provide ethical guidelines. If “mercenaries are allowed to overtake their principles,” as has happened in my JLWQA building, then everyone who lives here today, can be similarly bulldozed.

    If I, as a certified Artist who owns my apartment and has provided the co-op board and the DOB with ample evidence of my legitimacy, am subject to eviction notices and lawsuits, simply because another party states that she wants to profit from her “fabulous New York investment,” then what protections do other Artists, and elderly renters have?

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 10, 2021

      Artists and elderly renters actually have a lot of protections. The 2019 law really bolstered them (mostly for renters). It’s really hard to get someone out of a rent-regulated apartment. What is happening to you is because of the unique circumstances of your co-op and apartment.

      People are much greedier when a resource is scarce. Housing in SoHo is a scarce resource because there is very little of it. The solution is to build more housing. And SoHo can’t be alone. Other wealthy neighborhoods need to contribute their share too.

  15. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 10, 2021

    The lawsuits are public information, so I don’t mind if they are read by you or anyone else. In fact, I encourage it, because I feel that what has happened to me, and to my family is highly pertinent to what is happening in Soho today. The rampant and overwhelming greed which has overtaken our community is evidenced by my Notice to Cure, and the outrageous misrepresentations of my former next-door neighbor, and her son, the attorney. It is also represented in your position, as a representative of the real estate industry.

    It is creepy indeed that you will not reveal your name, especially since you have so much interest in my case. If you believe in what you are doing, you ought to be proud to reveal your identity.

    I would be glad to discuss this matter to whatever extent I can, as the matter is being litigated, if you will reveal your identity. I could then speak to you as a human being, and no longer have to refer to you as a “Robot” or an “entity.”

    Wouldn’t that be nice? So sign in with your name, or farewell.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 10, 2021

      Sorry, Harry, prefer to remain anonymous. Sorry to hear what’s happening to you, but really nothing to do with the SoHo rezoning (or my earlier post about Andrew Berman’s comments, which was what kicked this all off). Wish you the best.

  16. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 10, 2021

    You are certainly not “on my side” or on the side of anyone who actually lives here. What you are proposing will desecrate what remains of Soho, and even kill the Golden Goose that you worship. You and your gang won’t care though, because you will have already absconded with pockets full of cash!

    The original artists were anything but “gentrifiers.” We had never even heard the word, and simply needed a place to live where we could do our work. We were willing to forego the comforts that most people required, in part, because many of us had already lived without them elsewhere.

    Perhaps you are the person who is suing me. That person accuses me of holding his mother “hostage,” when in fact, she chose to live in Canada, lost her green card, cannot even live in this country, and has pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars by subletting an illegal apartment. I am simply trying to remain in my only home, with my family. But the person who accuses me of holding her hostage owns a million-dollar lakefront vacation property, and her son owns a large home in Chappaqua, and sublets another co-op on the Lower East Side.

    Are the original, and now elderly pioneers of Soho “pulling up the ladder” on others by even having the nerve to continue to live on this earth? Are we using up oxygen that is really intended for the wealthy, with every feeble breathe we take? Should we immediately forfeit our homes for your benefit, and the benefit of your cronies?

    What you disingenuously refer to as “housing” is quite obviously nothing more than gross profiteering.

    In my case, the people who are suing me are the ones who are trying to deny a future generation — my children — of the right to remain in the home where they grew up.

    They are shameless, though, and so are you.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 10, 2021

      So it seems clear that discussing the rezoning isn’t going to be productive. But, to be clear, I do not think you should forfeit your home. I think we should build additional homes in other places in SoHo so more people can live there. The rezoning doesn’t remove landmarking protections, it doesn’t remove the tenant protections from 2019, and the cost to demolish and replace a building is prohibitive in many cases, so we’re not going to see buildings being torn down left and right.

      You keep brining up this lawsuit though, so I got curious and read it (and also your 2018 lawsuit against your co-op). Reading between the lines, here’s what I think happened. You got together with some people in 1975 to buy your building. Most people bought a whole floor, but you and your neighbor only had enough money for half a floor, so the two of your split your floor. This wasn’t technically legal because, among other reasons, her side didn’t have access to the fire escape. So your co-op filed a false certificate of occupancy in 1979 showing your floor as a single apartment. It was fine for a while. You were friends with your neighbor and the city didn’t seem to care what people like you were doing in these formerly abandoned SoHo buildings. But time went on and both of you hired professional contractors to renovate your apartments, which led to permits being issued (or, in her case, required but not issued). You and your neighbor also had a falling out that made it less likely you’d cooperate with each other. She moved away and illegally rented the apartment for a while. Eventually, the city started caring and the Dept. of Buildings figured out that the apartments didn’t match the certificate of occupancy. The city started fining your co-op and insisting that it bring the floor into compliance. The co-op issued you a notice to cure, which you can’t do without either you or your neighbor buying out the other. So you sued the co-op to void the notice to cure. While that’s pending, your neighbor decides she wants to be done with this (she doesn’t live here anymore and doesn’t need the hassle of dealing with the co-op issues), so she sues you for partition and tries to force you to sell the entire floor together with her and split the proceeds. Which, of course, you don’t want to do because it’s your home. So you’re stuck in a terrible situation (but also one that has nothing to do with the rezoning).

      How close did I get?

  17. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 9, 2021

    It never occurred to me that “refusing to build housing for the wealthy will not stop them from coming here.” Is this like a migration of lemmings? Are the wealthy going to smash up against our windows like Hitchcock’s “The Birds”? Yikes, we’d better tear down some landmarked buildings fast! I’m gettin’ outta here!

    Im fact, I don’t dislike the wealthy, at all. Many have attained wealth through accomplishment, and self-disciplined hard work. Obviously, wealthy people are among the greatest contributors to the common good, but I don’t suppose that those sorts are attracted to the current version of Soho.

    It is greed, dishonesty, racism and exploitation, which I dislike, and sadly, these things are evident in all economic classes.

    If the wealthy have a sincere desire to come here, who am I to discourage them? They can drive a cab all night in the South Bronx, load eighteen-wheel trucks for the Post Office, also all night, and spend a few years working at other odd jobs, as I did, until they have saved “$4,000.” Then they can live in a seventeen-year-old car with a broken windshield, as I did, put their sleeping bag out on the greasy floor of a deserted factory, and start sanding and painting, fixing and building a home for their family.

    I hope they will not be sued, forty-seven years later, as I am being sued, by someone who sublets an illegal apartment, and insists that I am standing in the way of their windfall by simply remaining in my only home. Interestingly enough, that person also claims that my apartment is “worth millions.” How do I put a price on my life, and where, in my seventieth year, would I go? Why must I be put out, and exiled, because of you, or others like you?

    I think I know you, Robot. But you don’t know me.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 10, 2021

      Harry, I really want to be on your side here! I said that what is happening to you sounds bad and I think you should be protected, and I mean that honestly. I get that you put hard work into your getting and building your home and want to keep it and I think you should. You started this off by responding to an unrelated post I made about Andrew Berman’s dishonest comments!

      Someone who works the kind of jobs today that you did back then has absolutely zero chance of saving enough money to buy an apartment anywhere. Even an apartment requiring the kind of work you had to put into yours (if those even still exist in the city and its still legal to sell them). The reason for that is very simple. The population growth has outpaced housing production, which has caused the price of housing to skyrocket everywhere. And the result is that you have young people with six-figure incomes renting tenement apartments in the Lower East Side and Chinatown, which pushes the lower-income people who used to live there out. That is how gentrification happens. The solution is building more housing.

      I really hate seeing first-wave gentrifiers work to pull the ladder up behind them by fighting against building more housing, which denies the generations the follow even remotely similar opportunities to what they had.

  18. LES3025 LES3025 November 9, 2021

    There are vacant lots in SoHo, like the one on Grand and Lafayette, which is in the rezoning area. I agree it would be great to build housing there, but we can’t, because it’s currently illegal. The rezoning would change that. Very little of SoHo is currently zoned for residential, so there are still plenty of commercial and underutilized industrial buildings there are well. If those are you criteria, it seems like SoHo is a good candidate.

    You also seem to be underestimating the number of wealthy people here, and the number who come year after year. The loft you bought for $4,000 in 1974 is worth millions now, and it’s not just because you installed plumbing and electricity. It’s because there’s a huge demand and limited supply. You can dislike “glass boxes” all you want, but there are tons of people who would live in SoHo if they could, but they can’t, because it’s too expensive. So they move nearby, to Chinatown, or further out to Brooklyn, and displace people there where housing is cheaper. You might not like the wealthy people, but refusing to build housing for them doesn’t stop them from coming here. It just means they take currently existing housing instead of new housing, which drives up the price for everyone.

    I agree that housing the homeless should be a priority, but it’s not mutually exclusive. We should also care and do something about the housing burden of people who aren’t homeless.

  19. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 9, 2021

    I’m not sure what this nameless entity, who will not reveal where it lives, considers “housing.” Certainly new development in Soho would be costly, and lend itself to luxury housing for the ultra-wealthy, even if a few units, as required, are set aside as tokens of appreciation from the benevolent developers.

    Why, however, is an area with more landmarked buildings than perhaps any other targeted for demolition and displacement?

    In reality, the first priority must be housing for the homeless. Everyone should have, as a human right, a room which provides for basic needs, as well as privacy and security. I believe that mental illness and violent crime rates will decline significantly if this requirement is met.

    Housing can be built throughout the city in hotels, office buildings, on vacant sites, as well as in underutilized industrial buildings, which is what was done in Soho.

    As far as luxury housing is concerned, one wonders how many extremely wealthy people there are who desire to live in glass boxes in the sky, and why society must devote itself to their needs.

    “God must love the wealthy, for he has made so many of them?” Nope.

  20. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 9, 2021

    This “real” but nameless entity speaks of “Soho as a whole” but advocates for tearing apart the wholeness of blocks that have stood watch over the twentieth century and now the twenty first, in order to recreate Soho as a hole for speculators’ money.

    If Soho is truly wealthier than most of the city, it is because the beauty of the old buildings, bequeathed to us by previous generations, was finally recognized. WHY is that good reason to destroy it?

    The only reason why Soho exists at all is because a previous plan to demolish it was finally defeated.

    The developers who seek to build enormous condos won’t be doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. Their motivation is profit.

    When profit motivates people to create good work, cure diseases or even break sports records, it a wonderful thing to behold. But plans to brutally tear down old buildings and replace them with massive condos, and and then misrepresent it as housing for all, is like the proverbial wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.

    If we open the door to the wolf, we will regret it.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 9, 2021

      Where do you suggest we build housing, Harry? You could name specific places, general descriptions of what kind of area is OK to build in, whatever you want. Where should we build housing?

  21. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 9, 2021

    I’ve seen this entity, LES3025, before. This unit is merely a shill for the real estate industry, and not a human being who actually lives here and has a name.

    Being called dishonest by a robot is absurd. Tell some of the seniors in the neighborhood, my friends who are trying to find ways to move out, that they are wealthy, or that they are secure in their homes, robot!

    We are not numbers, we are people.

    • Carol from East 5th Street Carol from East 5th Street November 9, 2021

      Thank you, Harry Pincus. Whilst reading LES3025’s posts I often thought, “This person has no soul.” Now I know why.

    • LES3025 LES3025 November 9, 2021

      Harry, I assure you, I am real. And I absolutely believe that you and other people like you (artists and seniors) deserve protection. Reading your comments, it sounds like you aren’t getting protection through the current system. It sounds like the status quo is being abused by wealthy nonartists and absentees. I think that’s unfortunate and I also think that groups like Village Preservation pay you and people like you a lot of lip service without doing anything that is really going to help you. But it’s not my place to tell you what your interests are or how to pursue them, so I’m not going to.

      What I will say is that this city has to build more housing. If the standard is that you can’t do that in any neighborhood where there is a rent-regulated apartment or where there is a senior or where there is someone who isn’t wealthy, then we wouldn’t be able to build anywhere. The fact that there are people in SoHo who are not wealthy doesn’t change the fact that SoHo as a whole is far wealthier than most of the city. That is good reason to build more housing there.

    • Neil Ortenberg Neil Ortenberg December 13, 2021

      They’re greedy bastards. This is insane

  22. LES3025 LES3025 November 9, 2021

    Berman’s comparison of SoHo to pre-development WIlliamsburg, Greenpoint, LIC and Hudson Yards is just shockingly dishonest. SoHo today is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, whereas the other four neighborhoods were not at the time of their rezoning. If we don’t upzone there, then where?

    Also, the reasons the neighborhoods became more expensive support doing more rezoning, not less. First, the reason rents go up everywhere is because we haven’t built enough housing to keep pace with population growth. The additional units added in the four neighborhoods he mentions aren’t nearly enough to counter that. We need more. Second, when you add a combination of high-end, market-rate housing and affordable housing, the median rent in the neighborhood will usually increase (maybe not in SoHo where almost all the housing is already high end). But the absolute number of affordable units also increases. The fact that overall neighborhood rent went up doesn’t mean no progress was made on affordable housing.

    Berman knows all this. He’s just dishonest.

  23. Harry Pincus Harry Pincus November 9, 2021

    Artists came here when people who expected even middle-class amenities shunned the old factories and broken streets. We built living and work spaces with our sweat equity out of deserted factories, and created value for the city. We revived Lower Manhattan, but we are, for the most part, not wealthy. Most of us earn less money than average workers, and we have fewer, or no, assured benefits. As Soho attained world-class status as a tourist destination, the real estate developers and wealthy new owners began to see us as an anachronism, and we have been under attack.

    I am the last certified artist, living in a JLWQA building since 1975, and I am being sued in the Southern District of New York by the absentee owner of the next-door apartment, a nonartist who was the president of the co-op board. Our 1979 Certificate of Occupancy, as a JLWQA building, was filed while I was working as an illustrator for Liberation newspaper in Paris, and depicts her illegal apartment (lot-line windows, no fire escape, no work permits) as an Artist “Studio/No Sleeping,” seemingly attached to my legitimate “Living/Work” JLWQA apartment. These days, she sublets her space for thousands a month, from Canada, in spite of 15 open violations, including Aggravated Class 1. Her son, a Westchester attorney, is suing me in what is known as a Partition case, claiming half-ownership of my apartment, based on the fraudulent C of O from 1979. They are demanding that I sell our apartment, where I have resided for almost 47 years, and where my wife and son still reside, at Public Auction, and turn over half of the proceeds to them.

    I was also served with a Notice to Cure by the current co-op board, composed mostly of wealthy absentee owners. They are demanding that I somehow cure the violations in the other apartment!

    I worked all night for decades to meet newspaper illustration deadlines, and sold etchings on street corners, in order to raise two children here. I scraped and sanded every square inch of this old factory space, and have stamped and approved D.O.B. permits, two Letters of Comnpletion and a passed audit. I also have a 1975 lease and stock certificate, but none of it seems to matter to the wealthy new absentee owners, who have decided to push us out, and have the wherewithal to drag us through the courts. I have discovered to my great disappointment that these entities will stop at nothing, and that their greed supersedes both reason and decency.

    Artists and seniors need and deserve protections. It is as simple as that. We built “Soho” and we should not now be sued, bulldozed or lied out of existence.

    • Neil Ortenberg Neil Ortenberg December 13, 2021

      Yes. We have to fight this!!!

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