Limiting hotels in M-1 zones a good idea
by Emily Gallagher
May 16, 2018 | 536 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This past week at the Community Board 1 meeting, we had a presentation from the city on a new opportunity to improve the approval system for hotel developers who want to build in industrial zones.

This is very welcome in my opinion, because it will require those who want to build a hotel in areas with an M-1 zoning to go through the land use review process, or ULURP.

These reviews require the developer to make a public case for their project, and usually they have to do an environmental impact review, which is a study of how their new building will impact traffic, sewage, water, parking, and other neighborhood concerns.

Then the public has several opportunities to comment, and can advocate for or against it or request that the government demand certain changes from the developers.

Currently, in a manufacturing zone there is no approval process for hotels. They are allowed "as of right," which is why so many hotels have sprung up over the last ten years in our area.

Our community board has been asking for a review process like this for years, as hotels by their very nature dynamically change the area in which they are placed by bringing transients to the area who need services.

They often expect those services (food, bars, entertainment, car services, shopping) to be provided in their immediate vicinity. These businesses, able to survive on tourist dollars alone, offer mixed results for locals, who often don't find regular use for them.

These businesses also sometimes replace ones truly meant for residents, like hardware stores or affordable grocers. Additionally, when hotels are in an industrial zone, visitors often are disturbed by the noise, trucks, fumes and hours of industrial business.

It has not been a good fit so far, despite the sexiness of a "loft-style" building. Often the tourists are not expecting and are not warned about the environment surrounding their temporary lodging. This sometimes results in the hotels failing.

Often, failed hotels then make a deal with the city to become housing for the homeless, and they are paid somewhere around $2,500 per family that they take in; certainly a strong profit for them, but with great impact both on the families they house as well as the residents and local businesses.

I do hope that the additional review process will help create more measured decision making for our community, which with our large industrial past has a significant amount of hotel development in M-1 zones.

As I mentioned before, this is currently allowed with zero oversight, so some sort of official process would be a welcome step in the right direction. The special permitting has not been adopted yet, so if you support it I suggest speaking to your elected officials about it.

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