Certain apartments and lofts in the SoHo and NoHo neighborhoods of Manhattan have a special zoning use classification called Joint Living Work Quarters for Artists (JLWQA). The JLWQA provisions in the zoning resolution (ZR) were created in the 1970s to allow certain artists certified by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) to live and work in the manufacturing districts of SoHo and NoHo (M1-5A and M1-5B), where residential use was prohibited.
Upon the adoption of the Special SoHo-NoHo Mixed Use District (SNX) on December 15, 2021, the former manufacturing districts were changed to mixed-use districts that allow unrestricted residential use alongside JLWQA use (or “JLWQAs”). New regulations in the SNX do not alter the status of any existing JLWQAs, which may continue to exist subject to the same occupancy restrictions in place prior to the 2021 zoning change. In addition, the SNX provides a voluntary non-discretionary pathway for those wishing to convert JLWQA to unrestricted residential use. Such conversion is facilitated through an administrative process that begins with an application to the Department of City Planning (DCP) as detailed below.
For those wishing to utilize the optional pathway to convert JLWQA to unrestricted residential use, an application may be submitted to DCP for an administrative approval by the Chairperson of the City Planning Commission (“Chairperson Certification”). The requirements of this particular City Planning Commission Chairperson Certification are laid out in Section 143-13 of the Zoning Resolution and are described below.
City Planning Commission Chairperson Certification is a non-discretionary action taken by the City Planning Commission’s Chairperson, informing the Department of Buildings that a development, enlargement, or conversion complies with conditions set forth in the Zoning Resolution.
The SoHo/NoHo Arts Fund, overseen by DCLA, will provide programmatic or facilities-related grants to artists, arts collectives and nonprofit organizations to promote the public presence of the arts in SoHo, NoHo and immediately surrounding Lower Manhattan neighborhoods south of 14th Street.
This City Planning Commission Chairperson Certification is designed to meet a wide range of conversion needs. It may be used to convert a single unit or multiple units within a building from JLWQA to unrestricted residential use. Unconverted units within the building will remain JLWQA and subject to the same occupancy restrictions in place prior to the 2021 zoning change. Units covered by the Loft Law (Article 7C of the Multiple Dwelling Law) are not subject to ZR Section 143-13 or the Arts Fund contribution.
The application process follows the general outline below. Detailed guidance on the application will be provided during the application process.
If you are unsure whether your property is eligible or have questions about the program, please contact the DCP Manhattan Office at MN_DL@planning.nyc.gov.
Tenants in New York have rights that protect them in interactions with landlords or managing agents. If you are a tenant in a rent-regulated unit you can receive free assistance including legal guidance by reaching out to the City’s Tenant Helpline. Call 311 and ask for the Tenant Helpline or visit nyc.gov/tenantprotection to get help now.