At issue is a 1971 zoning change that allowed artists to legally live in lofts they had converted from industrial space in SoHo. Technically, much of the neighborhood is still zoned to permit manufacturing, and a condition has been placed on the old industrial buildings: Each loft must have at least one artist or successor, and the use of retail spaces must be wholesale without a special permit.Technically....
Untold numbers of owners have sold lofts to wealthy non-artists, and SoHo has become one of the city's premier commercial retail centers, with boutique shops occupying the area's high-ceilinged, cast-iron buildings....What about fairness to all the people who have refrained from doing things that are against the law? You operated in a market that was affected by this law, free of competition from law abiders, and now you want it all legal, which would allow you to profit hugely by selling to all these late-comers to the market. Shouldn't the excess profit be factored out and put into a fund to support artists — the people you pushed out?
The owners' committee said it wants to legitimize what has already happened: SoHo's loft spaces are no longer just for artists, and their current residents and owners shouldn't have the uncertainty of being at odds with city zoning law hanging over their heads.
"In all fairness to the 99% of people who are here illegally, now is the time and the problem must be solved," said Ms. Baisley.
"To get rid of [the law] will destroy SoHo," said Mimi Smith, a feminist painter and sculptor, who bought a loft in 1973. "It's a real-estate ploy. They want more money for their lofts."Does she still own that loft? Or did she cash out early? Anyway, the SoHo of the 1970s was destroyed long ago. Presumably, there are remnants of artiness left, not that you can tell from street-level nowadays.