Volume 76, Number 26 | November 15 - 21, 2006
Pols don’t want Trump hotel tenants missing their checkout
By Albert Amateau
The city and local elected officials are negotiating with the Trump Organization for a restrictive declaration to insure that the proposed 45-story condo-hotel that Trump is building in Soho really operates as a hotel.
The project at 246 Spring St. at Varick St. is the first condo-hotel in the city proposed for a manufacturing zone, which permits transient hotels but not residences.
In a letter to anxious neighbors, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler said they shared concerns about a “condo-hotel” in which investors own individual units to live in or to rent to hotel guests.
“Allowing development in manufacturing zones that is effectively residential in nature would have a dramatic impact on our neighborhoods, and on the city economy,” the letter cautions.
The concern is also shared by the Department of Buildings, which has warily issued Trump a permit for the excavation and foundation but not for the building.
The restrictive declaration being negotiated with Trump is a voluntary but legally binding agreement that occupants may stay in the hotel only for a limited period.
“We are working with D.O.B. to express what stipulations we feel need to be included in the restrictive declaration, including regular inspections and effective enforcement of regulations,” the letter says.
Lee Grodin, Quinn’s legislative aide, said on Tuesday that a maximum occupancy period of 29 or 30 days is being proposed. Occupants would then have to leave for five to 10 days before being able to return. The maximum number of days per year an occupant could stay in a unit is proposed to be 90 to 150, Grodin said.
“We have also discussed the situation with the [New York State] Attorney General’s office, with which all conversions to condo-hotel ownership must be filed,” the letter says. The officials want the A.G. to make sure that restrictions on the condo-hotel are made clear to investors.
“We hope that these actions will insure that the Spring St. development operates only as a hotel and does not set a precedent that will open up manufacturing districts to residential development,” the letter goes on.
Community Board 2, the Soho Alliance, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the New York Industrial Retention Network are also monitoring the restrictive declaration process, according to the letter.
However, on Thursday, Andrew Berman, of G.V.S.H.P. said G.V.S.H.P. does not support the strategy to use the restrictive declaration, and will continue to fight the issuing of the building permit.
He said the restrictive declaration doesn’t resolve important questions, such as how someone could occupy a “transient hotel” room for 90 days or more.
Berman said he’s heard from the elected officials that the permit will be approved.
“We have been told that they [Buildings] are 100 percent committed to this building, he said.
“A restrictive declaration is of questionable enforceability,” said Berman. “They’ve frequently been tossed out in court. There’s a possibility that this will face a legal challenge when the permit is issued. We feel the city is using the restrictive declaration to shield itself from a legal challenge.”
The letter notes that the proposed project complies with the rules that allow transient hotels in manufacturing districts.