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The Soho Business Improvement District Battle Is Heating Up

Image via Getty Images
Image via Getty Images

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In an attempt to fix up a few of Soho's problems—mainly, sidewalks packed with street vendors and trash cascading over garbage cans—a proposal for a Soho Business Improvement District will be heard at a public hearing this March at the City Council. The BID would be a public-private partnership focused on securing funds to improve the neighborhood's "sanitation, marketing and beautification," but the Times reports that the debate over whether or not one should exist has been going on for two years.

Not everyone is on board: Though the idea of one less Kanye West–sunglasses stand might sound appealing to most, many of Soho's actual residents aren't thrilled with the thought of possibly catering to the neighborhood's retail scene. According to the Times, those opposed (which include members of the SoHo Alliance) feel that "having a business improvement district formed with the help of real estate giants means ceding more ground to invaders who, they believe, want to increase pedestrian flow to be able to charge more for retail space."

Residents who secured a spot for themselves in the neighborhood before there was a Chanel feel that the issue of slow-moving tourists is due to the fact that luxury retailers line the streets, and if a business improvement district were to be established that catered to such retailers, the problem could worsen.

Not everyone feels that the plan is such a threat, though. Soho resident Katy Rice puts it pretty simple: "There's no big, bad boogeyman; I don't want more tourists on Broadway. As a resident, I don't want to step on trash, and I don't want vendors selling hash pipes outside my door."
· Critics of SoHo Proposal Ask, You Call This Improvement? [NYT]
· Is Soho a Business District, Tourist Trap, Neighborhood...? [Curbed NY]
· The Times Takes a Look at How Cool South Soho Is [Racked NY]