Special permit for City Drops Union Square Hotel


Union Square and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty)

Union Square and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty)

The Blasio administration is abandoning the plan to require a special permit for the new construction of hotels in Union Square – but remains determined to study whether such a mandate would work throughout the city.

The city quietly withdrew its application to establish a 25-block area, where each new construction of the hotel requires a special permit. The decision came at the urging of the city council.

“The Commission approved this request just before the full impact of Covid and the closure of the city,” said Council member Francisco Moya, who chairs the authority’s territorial subcommittee, in a letter to Marise Lago, director of the spatial planning department. “As we all know, the political environment has changed dramatically over the last seven months, and we believe it is important to evaluate our efforts in a city-wide context with regard to hotel regulation.”

Joseph Marvilli, a DCP spokesman, said the agency had withdrawn its application following talks with the city council.

“Evaluating our efforts to regulate hotels in a city-wide context will help us create a more responsible proposal for this new environment,” he said.

As part of wider resonances, special permits for new hotels are now required in Midtown East and Garment County. From 2018, developers in light production zones also had to obtain special permits.

Last year, the mayor asked DCP to examine the feasibility of implementation entrust the whole city. Officials have previously confirmed that the pandemic did not deter mayor’s support for the study, the latest DCP statement suggests that officials see the past eight months as further confirmation that city-wide regulation may be needed. However, it is not entirely clear what this would entail.

City hotels saw a drop in occupancy and some were forced to close their doors permanently. According to STR, the occupancy rate of hotels in the city last month was less than 40 percent. According to the Financial Times 80 percent from city hotels that are supported by CMBS show signs of anxiety.

Erik Engquist contributed news.

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