Loft living: art and real estate in urban re-development

Soho Lofts


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Rosanna Verde

Please join us for the next MSD Public Lecture with Professor Sharon Zukin, City University, New York.
This free keynote lecture is part of the Urban Geography workshop on the Creativity and the Built Environment Nexus.

In 2021, after five years of contentious public meetings, the New York city council voted to “upzone” SoHo, the well-known artist district in Lower Manhattan, along with adjacent areas of NoHo and Chinatown, to permit the demolition of old factories and warehouses and their replacement by new, taller, residential buildings—for the larger number of future market-rate or luxury apartments are accompanied by a smaller number of “affordable” apartments at lower rents.

From the city government’s point of view, and that of activists from outside the community, this will help to solve the city’s severe housing crisis. In the view of longtime residents, however, mainly older artists who are ageing in place, the rezoning betrayed the promise of community engagement, historic district designation, and, most importantly, zoning that had protected artists’ legal right to live and work in the area’s lofts.

The rezoning betrayed the artists’ role in creating a place that was not only famous around the world, and as a major tourist attraction, a model for creative city development, and a global brand.

In this lecture, Professor Zukin answers these important urban sociology questions.

Sharon Zukin
Professor Emerita of Sociology, Earth and Environmental Science at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Professor Zukin is known for the pioneering study Loft Living (1982) as well as The Innovation Complex (2020), the first critical examination of New York’s tech industry. Her book Landscapes of Power won the C. Wright Mills Award; Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places received the Jane Jacobs Award for Urban Communication. She has also received the Lynd Award for career achievement in urban sociology.