Soho, short for South of Houston, is the epitome of New York City’s evolution. It boasts the largest collection of cast-iron architecture in the world, which continues to be preserved by the city thanks to historic district and landmark protections. These cast-iron buildings were almost all commercial loft buildings… until artists began moving in and using them (illegally) as residential spaces. Then the artists started being displaced by wealthier and wealthier residents. Today, Soho is an upscale residential community known for its world-class retail and dining.
The neighborhood’s boundaries can change depending on who you’re talking to, but they generally include Houston Street to the north; Canal Street to the south; Sixth Avenue to the west; and Centre Street / Lafayette Street to the east. Just like Tribeca, Soho’s loft buildings are coveted for their open floor plans, soaring ceilings, and large windows. One interesting characteristic to keep in mind is that lofts on the lower floors of a building have higher ceilings than lofts on the higher floors. In order to make the buildings look taller from the street than they really were, the lower floors were built to have higher ceilings than the top floors. Even top-floor lofts rarely have views, so if high ceilings are what you’re looking for, then looking at homes on the second floor of a loft building can help you find what you need.
Soho is an attractive weekend and after-work destination thanks to its many retail stores and fine dining options. Like the Village, that makes Soho perfect for those who want to work and play on the same block. But unlike the Village, the foot traffic from the retail stores can be overwhelming. If they want to avoid the crowds outside of their homes, then Soho buyers will strongly prefer side streets such as Mercer, Greene, and Crosby to main streets like Broadway and Canal. The neighborhood is also consistently near the top of New York’s list of most expensive neighborhoods, although it tends to come after Tribeca most of the time.
Soho is home to more co-ops than in Tribeca, although they are not always more affordable than condos. Many co-op buildings in the area own the building’s retail space and collect rent from their tenants. This can reduce or even eliminate carrying costs for the property, boosting sales prices in the building significantly. Soho also has options for affordable starter apartments along Thompson and Sullivan Streets.
West of Sixth Avenue – still south of Houston and north of Canal – lies Hudson Square. It is architecturally very different from Soho because it lacks cast-iron architecture and because its buildings are mid-to-high-rise structures, not low-rise lofts. New construction is everywhere in Hudson Square, although the neighborhood lacks the world-famous fine dining and retail that makes Soho attractive. This is an option for buyers who want to be close enough to take a 15-minute walk to get to true Soho (or the West Village, or Tribeca), but who need their home to be new and shiny.
Little Italy / Chinatown
East of Lafayette / Centre Streets and west of Bowery is a mini-neighborhood that is sometimes considered part of Soho, but lacks the cast-iron architecture. It’s called Little Italy (and another part of it is sometimes called Chinatown). These are both perfectly fine choices if you don’t mind taking a five-minute walk to reach cast-iron Soho. Homes in these neighborhoods are not common because the neighborhoods are so small, but when those homes do hit the market, Little Italy and Chinatown are the perfect place to find new developments that you would not be able to find in the landmarked Cast Iron District.