downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 | Issue 27 | November 17 - 23, 2006

Downtown Express photo by Jefferson Siegel

Trump contractors began building the foundation for his planned condo-hotel last week. Trump does not have a permit yet to construct the building. Local politicians are asking the city to require owners to check out of units every 30 days.

Pols: No to Roach Motels -- tenants must check out

By Albert Amateau

The city, with local elected officials and neighborhood preservation groups, is 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 Jerold 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 of time, according to the letter.

“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. All these occupancy durations are currently being negotiated.

The department issued a statement on Wednesday that negotiations with Trump are in progress but there is no agreement yet and the application is still “disapproved.” Trump has a permit to build the foundation, but not the building.

The Trump Organization did not return a phone call for comment on Wednesday.

The elected officials’ letter says, “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 officials want the A.G. staff to make sure that restrictions on the proposed 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.

Neighbors are also concerned with the height and density of the Trump project, but the letter notes that the proposed project complies with the rules that allow transient hotels in manufacturing districts.

However, elected officials and the community groups want to avoid similar situations in the future. They seek to clarify the meaning of “transient” in the zoning regulations and want to explore zoning updates on the height and bulk of future projects in the area.

“Unfortunately, given the timing of the city’s land use process, it is not possible to change the city zoning before the city issues building permits for 246 Spring St.,” the letter says. “We will need the community’s active and vocal support to make sure these concerns are addressed.”

Albert@DowntownExpress.com

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