SoHo Documentary | Project Statement

SoHo is a Lower Manhattan neighborhood with a storied history and an uncertain future. The film will tell the story of how SoHo changed from a factory district (pre-1970s) to an artists’ community (1970-80s) and gradually “gentrified” into an expensive area of luxury loft residences and both big box stores and designer boutiques (1990s-2000s). But more changes are on the horizon, as the city tries to implement “upzoning” to increase residential and business density and incentivize real estate developers to build affordable housing, along with a much larger share of market-rate apartments. The changes in the zoning laws threaten to curtail historic district preservation and change the social atmosphere and cultural character of the neighborhood. Longtime artist renters may be displaced. The stakes of “losing” the neighborhood and building any affordable housing at all have unleashed a year-long fight between YIMBYS, NIMBYS, artists, real estate developers, social justice activists and historic preservation advocates.

Filmmaker Bios

Sharon Zukin is now professor emerita of sociology at Brooklyn College and at the CUNY Graduate Center but is still working with PhD students and will occasionally teach courses. Her new book, The Innovation Complex: Cities, Tech, and the New Economy, examines the shaping of the tech ecosystem in New York.  Zukin has been a Broeklundian Professor at Brooklyn College; a visiting professor at the University of Amsterdam, the University of Western Sydney, and Tongji University; and a distinguished fellow in the Advanced Research Collaborative at the CUNY Graduate Center.  She received the Lynd Award for Career Achievement in urban sociology from the American Sociological Association and won the C. Wright Mills Book Award for Landscapes of Power.

Alice Arnold is a documentary media maker and educator. She creates, edits, designs, writes and photographs projects that explore the urban environment and visual culture — from street art to advertising and from sidewalks to electric signs. Her films are in the collections of university libraries throughout the United States and have screened at MoMA and other festivals. She is a NYFA Photography Fellow, a Fulbright Fellow in film and an Adjunct Professor at the City University of New York.