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SoHo: Restaurants and shops mix with high rental costs in the thriving NYC neighborhood

SoHo is a neighborhood with two faces: It’s touristy, but also has a sense of community.

From shopping to art to the area’s history, there is something here for everybody, locals say — that is, those who can afford it.

In terms of housing prices in the downtown Manhattan nabe, “the sky is the limit,” said John Brandon, a licensed real estate agent from Citi Habitats who works in the area.

SoHo’s median sales price has been above $2 million since 2012, according to the real estate listings site StreetEasy, when the median price rose 16.5% year-over-year, from $1.995 million in 2011 to $2.325 million.

The median sales price in SoHo in 2015 was $2,672,500, which was down 10.8% from the 2014 median of $2.995 million, according to StreetEasy.

On the rental side, the median asking rent in SoHo in 2015 was $4,000, up 6.7% from $3,750 in 2014, according to StreetEasy.

By comparison, the median sales price in Manhattan as a whole in 2015 was $967,750, and the median asking rent was $3,195.

But longtime residents are staying put despite the rising prices.

“Although the astronomical housing prices have put living in SoHo out of reach for most New Yorkers, there is a remaining community of longtime residents that keep the neighborhood’s vibrancy alive,” noted Councilman Corey Johnson, whose district includes SoHo.

For example, he said SoHo residents make sure that zoning requirements are respected by retailers and developers, especially in the buildings in the area’s Cast Iron Historic District, which was designated by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1973.

Forty-year resident Sean Sweeney, director of the SoHo Alliance, a volunteer advocacy group, said most retailers follow their guidelines and harmonize well with SoHo.

“We don’t want SoHo to become Herald Square,” he said.

This dynamic appeals to Maud Maron, a member of the local Community Board 2 who moved to SoHo four years ago with her husband and three kids.

“I was worried it would feel like a mall when we moved here, but I was surprised and pleased by the sense of community,” Maron, 44, said.

Still, for many New Yorkers, SoHo is an easily-accessible shopping hub, with everything from big brands like Uniqlo and Topshop to chic designers like GUESS, Sam Edelman and Rag & Bone to the department store Bloomingdale’s.

The area is also home to many art galleries, like Melet Mercantile, which has an appointment-only showroom of film and theater set designer ephemera, and Team Gallery, a commercial space, both on Wooster Street.

Food options range from upscale eateries like Balthazar at 80 Spring St. and The Mercer Kitchen at 99 Prince St. to halal trucks on street corners.

In terms of downsides to the neighborhood, two-year resident Ella West said its popularity attracts crowds of people and tourists, which can overwhelm locals.

“Broadway is not an option on the weekends,” said West, 26, who lives on the cobblestoned Crosby Street.

But SoHo residents love their easy access to public transit, with 12 train lines going to the area, she said. Its proximity to the West Side Highway is great for joggers and people with cars, and it is within walking distance of NoLita, Chinatown, the Lower East Side and TriBeCa.

“Because the rent is so high [in SoHo], some shops in the neighborhood have no problem charging $7 for a few walnuts,” West said. “It’s great to be able to pick up groceries in Chinatown, where you can find great produce and fish for a fraction of the price.”

Find it:

SoHo is bordered by West Houston Street to the north and Canal Street to the south, and stretches across from the West Side Highway to the west to Lafayette Street to the east, according to StreetEasy.

To eat

Dominique Ansel Bakery189 Spring St.The bakery, famous for
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Dominique Ansel Bakery

189 Spring St.

The bakery, famous for being the birthplace of the cronut (a doughnut-croissant hybrid), serves classic and creative takes on French pastries in a space with a back garden.

Hampton Chutney Co.

143 Grand St.

A casual eatery serving South Indian dosas (thin sourdough crepes) stuffed with a variety of fillings, from masala potatoes to smoked turkey, as well as sandwiches and chai.


60 Thompson St.

An upscale Italian restaurant known for its pastas, seafood and flavorful Southern Italian specialties.

To party

Pegu Club77 W. Houston St.One of the first
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Pegu Club

77 W. Houston St.

One of the first bars in New York to popularize mixologist-made cocktails.

Ear Inn

326 Spring St.

Located in the historic James Brown House, built in 1817, this pub calls itself "the oldest working bar in NYC."


15 Thompson St.

A swanky rooftop bar on the 18th floor of the James Hotel, with refined decor and gorgeous views.

To shop

Evolution120 Spring St.A quirky neighborhood gem that sells
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier


120 Spring St.

A quirky neighborhood gem that sells bones, preserved specimens, fossils and other natural history-related collectibles.

Bite Beauty Lip Lab

174 Prince St.

Customize and create your own lipstick color. You can even pick the fragrance.

Housing Works

126-130 Crosby St.

The used bookstore cafe (which hosts events at night) and thrift shop are next door to each other. Proceeds go to helping end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS in New York.

To do

City Winery155 Varick St.Head to this winery for
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

City Winery

155 Varick St.

Head to this winery for tastings, classes, Mediterranean fare and live music.

The Drawing Center

35 Wooster St.

A small museum focusing on the history and future of drawn art.

Children's Museum of the Arts

103 Charlton St.

A great place to hang out with -- or drop off -- the kids. Children are invited to make art side-by-side with professionals.

SoHo in pop culture

Parts of the TV shows
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Julian Finney

Parts of the TV shows "Gossip Girl" and "Sex and the City" were filmed in SoHo, along with key scenes in "Ghostbusters" and Martin Scorsese's "Mean Streets." The 1990 film "Ghost" was filmed in a loft at 102 Prince St., which sold for $9.5 million in January, according to StreetEasy. Celebrities who have lived in SoHo include Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, Jon Bon Jovi, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, and Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos.

The basics

Trains:1 to Houston Street and Canal StreetA to
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier


1 to Houston Street and Canal Street

A to Canal Street

C, E to Spring Street and Canal Street

N to Prince Street and Canal Street

Q to Canal Street

R to Prince Street and Canal Street

6 to Spring Street and Canal Street

B, D, F, M to Broadway-Lafayette Street


M5, M20, M21


SoHo, along with TriBeCa and the Financial District, is patrolled by the 1st Precinct. The precinct reported one robbery and three burglaries in its CompStat report for the week of March 7-13. It has reported two rapes and no murders so far in 2016 as of March 13.

SoHo real estate data

Median sales price: $2,672,500 Number of units on
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

Median sales price: $2,672,500

Number of units on market: 379

Median rental price: $4,000

Number of units on market: 1,382

(Source: StreetEasy)

Q&A with Conner Stenson, stylist at What Goes Around Comes Around in SoHo

Conner Stenson, 24, has been a stylist at
Photo Credit: Nikkitha Bakshani

Conner Stenson, 24, has been a stylist at the vintage shop What Goes Around Comes Around, at 351 W. Broadway, for three years. The shop, a neighborhood staple since it opened in 1993, boasts having the world's largest vintage Chanel and Levi's denim selections, along with more than 10 Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags.

What is distinctive about SoHo?

I think the most unique thing about SoHo is how eclectic it is. It is the world's mecca for high-fashion, but you can also do just about anything here. You can find the best shopping, nightlife, restaurants and art in SoHo, which gives visitors endless options.

What's your favorite memory from the nabe?

It's hard to pick one in particular because I have had so many! Thanks to working in SoHo, I've had the opportunity to meet amazing people that I admire. And I have been able to build great relationships with some of them.

What would you want to change in the area?

I'm a big fan of street art and wish there were more murals in the neighborhood, other than that it's pretty perfect.

The buzz

SoHo is experiencing a big boom in small
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

SoHo is experiencing a big boom in small developments.

Since much of the neighborhood is landmarked, high rises cannot be built in SoHo.

Instead, new residential buildings, such as 30 Thompson St., 565 Broome St. and 325 West Broadway, match the heights of other low-rises in the area.

Sean Sweeney, director of the SoHo Alliance, said new developments are rarely welcome in an area, but the neighborhood appreciates the lack of skyscrapers.

"As disruptive as construction can be for a neighborhood, at least in SoHo, when you look up, you can still see the sky," he said.

Most new SoHo developments are in the luxury market, though rental inventory is diverse, according to Rory Bolger, an agent with Citi Habitats who works in the area. He added that Citi Habitats logged the average monthly rent in SoHo at $4,965 in its February market report.

"Either we're talking about small, old-school pre-war walk-ups or super-luxury lofts," Bolger said of rentals in the area. "I've seen apartments in SoHo with bathtubs in the kitchen and wide-open lofts with huge windows and iron columns that look like movie sets."


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