Testimony of Cordelia Persen, NoHo BID

New York City Planning Commission Hearing – September 2, 2021

Hello, I’m Cordelia Persen, the Executive Director of the NoHo BID.  As a member of the Envision Advisory Group, I have been deeply engaged with this process from the beginning. Over the last three years, I have attended almost every Zoom and meeting and heard the many concerns over the plan.  I also have heard some very good ideas for compromise to address some of those concerns and hope this rezoning will go through with those changes in place.  

Everyone knows there are some real problems with the current zoning that need to be addressed. The current mishmash of zoning rules that have been patched together since our last rezoning, continue to lead to the kinds of problems the opposition to this plan have been complaining about. What the area needs is a coherent plan to follow going forward.  We need zoning that actually matches current usage vs continuing with the long cumbersome expensive variance process that only works for certain well financed tenants and developers.

From the beginning, the NoHo Business Improvement’s goals for the rezoning center around retail use of our buildings. We are happy to see that the plan makes retail as of right and ends the arbitrary 10,000 sf limit to size of retail that makes no sense, due to the sizes of our building floor plates. We have said since the beginning that retail is in a major flux and property owners and retail uses need flexibility to use their spaces as the time and trends lead them. Covid has only made this more true.

The NoHo BID also feels very strongly that we want to preserve the historic character of the district and are concerned with the level of upzoning currently proposed. SoHo Broadway Initiative, NoHo Bowery Stakeholders and Cooper Square Committee  have come up with alternative zoning scenarios that we believe will allow more growth, but not at a level that will be detrimental to the district. We hope the Department of City Planning will look closely at these plans and alter their current proposal and we can get this done and move the districts into the future.