ZARA’s 2nd Floor Becomes Ground Zero for SoHo Rezoning Debate

Posted on: February 5th, 2020 at 5:01 am by

Photo: Eddie Panta

David Thall, a resident who lives directly behind ZARA on Mercer Street, testified that the mall store is scaring off boutique retailers lining Mercer Street. Thall explained that more than four storefronts are currently vacant and that Max Mara vacated his building in large part of because of ZARA. (Boogie confirmed that there are indeed four vacant storefronts on Mercer Street directly behind the block-through Zara building.)

Despite detailed testimony and a lengthy ULURP, the hearing ended without a vote or decisive measure from City Council.  And the future of the SoHo/NoHo Report remains equally ambiguous. Roundly criticized as too vague, advocates and critics of the special permit application continue to find language in the Report that supports their position. For now, the legality of ZARA’s second floor appears stalled in a political conundrum where city officials charged with special permitting are also the sponsors of a community-led zoning study.

But in the end, it was ZARA itself that may have inadvertently provided the best case to deny the application. Lead counsel testified that the City never contemplated the M1-5B zoning restrictions for “mixed-used areas” like Broadway in SoHo, and that the real intention was to prevent the construction of malls in manufacturing areas surrounding the suburbs of the city. But now, as SoHo finds itself “mallified,” these comments actually expressed the desire of community activists, residents and many retailers to maintain some measure of the current zoning rules to prevent any further suburbanization of the City.

This story has multiple pages:

Recent Stories

Chinatown Asks, Where’s the Beef? [OP-ED]

In scenes reminiscent of life in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, where long lines were the norm for basic necessities and food, the past couple weeks of coronavirus quarantine have shown a crack here at home. Despite federal and state leaders’ calls to remain calm and reassurances that there are bountiful supplies of meat, vegetables and […]

The Crazy Line Outside Trader Joe’s on Grand Street

This is the queue outside Trader Joe’s on Grand Street. Distanced six feet apart, the line of shoppers snaked around onto Clinton Street and up to Broome. It’s a scene that plays out daily amidst the COVID-19 shutdown, as residents scramble for groceries. We were told that management allows a store occupancy of fifty to […]

DOB Unveils Real-Time Map Plotting Essential and Emergency Construction Sites

At the end of March, Governor Cuomo froze almost all construction projects statewide in response to the fast-moving COVID-19 pandemic and its infection of 19 workers around the city. Only essential projects are granted a pass – infrastructure and transportation projects, emergency repairs, hospital building, and work on affordable housing. It is these exception jobs […]

Pickle Guys to Close Next Week, Hope to Reopen in May

Some sour news indeed for Lower East Siders: The Pickle Guys are going on hiatus. Indefinitely. The brine stalwarts of Grand Street announced the closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover. The pickle peeps hope to return at the beginning of May. The store will remain open […]

Straphanger at East Broadway Station Chases Down Mugger to Retrieve his Wallet

Criminals are still out there, in spite of the COVID-19 lockdown. Especially in the largely empty subway stations. East Broadway station again lives up to its dangerous reputation with a mugging there last week. According to police, a man entered the station at Rutgers Street and East Broadway at 8:45pm on March 24 to purchase […]