Volume 76, Number 3 | June 6- 13 2006

Trump fires up new plan for Hudson Square hotel

By Ronda Kaysen

A rendering of the planned Trump hotel at Varick and Spring Sts.
Donald Trump’s newest addition to the Manhattan skyline may come in the form of a 45-story luxury high-rise on the sleepy eastern edge of Hudson Square.

The developer and reality TV star unveiled plans this week to construct the condo-hotel, which would have 400 rooms, at 246 Spring St. between Varick St. and Sixth Ave. Sean Yazbeck, the latest winner of “The Apprentice” — Trump’s reality show — will be given the reins for constructing the project, dubbed Trump Soho Hotel Condominiums New York, which could break ground before the end of the year. Trump’s team hopes to open the hotel’s doors in 2009.

“We’re trying to build something that will change the landscape of Soho,” said Julius Schwarz, executive vice president of the Bayrock Group, the managing partner in the project, which is also being developed by Tamir Sapir, the ex-cab driver who famously paid $40 million for the Duke Semans Mansion on Fifth Ave. Two of Trump’s children, Donald, Jr., and daughter Ivanka, will oversee the project with their father.

The luxury hotel, equipped with an outdoor pool, a 30-person screening room, restaurant and members library, will be more pied-a-terre than short-stay hotel. Geared toward the hip, wealthy, 30-something crowd, every unit in the Handel Architects-designed building will be sold individually to buyers who might live there year-round, from time to time or seasonally. All owners will be free to offer up their Rockwell Group-designed units as hotel rooms, if they so choose. If built, this will be the first all-condo-hotel of its kind in the city, said Schwarz.

“We really wanted to create something that had that hotel feel,” he said. “We wanted a place that people could go to and use room service.”

But building the luxury condo-hotel may not be so simple. The area is zoned for manufacturing, which does not generally permit long-term-stay hotel uses.

“No way, they can’t do that here, it’s against the zoning,” said architect David Reck, chairperson of the Community Board 2 Zoning Committee.

According to the Department of Buildings, there are some exceptions to the rule, but Jennifer Givner, a department spokesperson, could not confirm by press time whether the swath of land in question allows for long-term-stay hotel use.

So far, Trump has been unable to get his applications approved by Buildings. Last month, three applications to the department were not approved.

“There were definitely a number of zoning and building code issues,” said Givner.

A hotel comprised entirely of residential condos is new territory for the city —Givner was unaware of any other building like it — and might test new waters.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever addressed this before,” she said. “It seems like a new issue. It definitely is an interesting one.”

The project will be a costly one to build — on “The Apprentice” on Monday night, Trump said the price tag would be around $380 million. Schwarz didn’t dismiss the estimate.

“It’s an extremely expensive project,” he said. “This is a showcase property. It’s more than money.”

Some nearby residents are less than thrilled to see a 45-story tower crop up in their neighborhood.

“It’s terrible. It’s an abomination in a low-rise neighborhood,” said Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance. But Sweeney doubts there is much that can be done to stop a tall building from coming — the law allows for large buildings there and the developers purchased the air rights from a nearby property to supplement the height.

“What can you do? There’s nothing you can do to stop it,” Sweeney said.

The Trump tower may be part of a trend toward new, taller buildings in Hudson Square. Trinity Church has plans to build a 28-story office tower on the block bounded by Varick, Hudson, Spring and Van Dam Sts. Trump might ultimately succeed in building a tower on Spring St., but Reck is not convinced it will be a hotel.

“They haven’t broken ground yet,” he said. “When it comes to hotels, I have heard plans for at least seven or eight hotels down here. I don’t think all of them could possibly be built.”

But Schwarz of Bayrock thinks the neighborhood is ripe for a first-rate hotel, and the new tower, with its sweeping city and river views, will be just the one.

“I can’t think of a better use for that parcel — we’re making it super-luxurious,” he said. “We’re doing this as much for the city as we are for us.”

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