Draft Environmental Impact Statement
(CEQR No. 18DCP042Y)
We are Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and State Senator Brad Hoylman. We represent the 75th Assembly District and the 27th State Senate District in Manhattan, which include Midtown, Chelsea, Clinton/Hellís Kitchen, the West Village, the East Village, and part of the Upper West Side. We support the Department of City Planning proposal to amend the zoning text Article VII, Chapter 4 of the Cityís Zoning Resolution to establish a new special permit requirement for the construction of new hotels in light manufacturing, M1 Districts. Hotel construction is out of control in New York City. Hotels currently being built in M1 districts are permitted ďas of right.Ē Since our districts are in Manhattan, we will focus our testimony on the number of new hotels in Manhattan. NYC and Company issued a report on September 15, 2017 listing the number of new hotels and the number of rooms in Manhattan. Between 2015 and September 2017, 48 new hotels with 16, 459 rooms have opened in Manhattan alone. That number is staggering. There are also many new hotels in the pipeline, and include the conversion of buildings. The report shows that in our Senate and Assembly districts alone, at least 41 new hotels and more than 11,000 hotel rooms are slated to open between September of this year and 2019. The impact of this new hotel construction is a threat to light manufacturing and other small businesses, and encourages property owners to build hotels and not new permanent housing. We recently served as members of the Garment Center Steering Committee, along with other elected officials, Community Boards 4 and 5, and garment center business representatives, labor unions, property owners and real estate interests, and other stakeholders in the garment industry. We put together a report and recommendations on how best to save the garment center, small businesses, and jobs in New York City. One of the biggest problems facing the industry is the proliferation of new hotels in the West 20ís through the West 40ís, the streets which make up the historic garment industry. Nearly 5,000 new hotel rooms have come online or are in the pipeline for the area. One of the recommendations in the report is to institute hotel restrictions as part of the new Special Garment Center District zoning changes. The changes would require a special permit for new hotel construction east of Eighth Avenue in Community District 5 and would not permit any new hotels construction west of Eighth Avenue in Community District 4. Of great concern to us and our colleagues is the survival of another industry adjacent to the Garment Center, the Flower District. The flower industry, like the garment industry, has an ecosystem made up of floral wholesalers, floral retailers, designers, and wedding planners. The components of the industry work together to specialize in high-end, high-quality, and niche products, and their close proximity to each other is paramount to keeping the flower industry thriving in New York City. The New York City Flower market employs approximately 250 people and generates revenue estimated at between $100-120 million a year. The U.S. flower market is an $18 billion industry, and New York is the largest market in the nation according to The Economist. There has been an enormous increase of new hotel construction in the Flower District. The development has dramatically reshaped the wholesale blocks of the area. Most of the hotels are very tall and very narrow buildings and are leading to the decline of the flower market by real estate interests that pay exorbitant costs to demolish the old industrial buildings and construct hotels in their place that, with as of right privilege, can double and sometimes triple in height when compared to other buildings on the block. The hotels are also threatening the number of Class B and C commercial spaces in the area. They also adversely affect the parking and traffic patterns in the district. The wholesale industry depends on deliveries, and the traffic combined with the increase in parking tickets has made doing business in the area untenable. And suitcase toting tourists are put in harmís way by the aggressive movement of hand trucks, garment racks, and push carts moving goods for sale around the city and around the country, strong evidence of commerce that doesnít have an Ďeí before it. We are also concerned about the proposal by CPC to approve special permits for new hotel construction on a case-by-case, site-specific basis. What criteria will be used for approving or denying these special permits? The language in the scoping document is vague. We would like to see specific language spelled out in the final zoning resolution. In closing, we support the proposed zoning text amendment and thank the City Planning Commission for addressing this issue. The construction of new hotels is out of control and it is long past time for the city to manage, tighten restrictions, and plan for the number and placement of new hotels throughout the west side of Manhattan.
RICHARD N. GOTTFRIED