NYC Proposed Citywide Hotel Special Permit Moves into the Public Review Process

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Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

On Monday, May 3, 2021, the New York City Planning Commission (CPC) “referred” the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) proposed zoning text that would mandate a Special Permit for all new hotels in New York City, beginning the City’s public review process for approval of the proposed text. This proposed Hotel Special Permit will be applicable to all new hotel developments, changes of use, conversions or enlargements to a hotel use in a building that did not previously contain a hotel use, or an enlargement of an existing hotel use that increases the existing floor area by 20% or more. The Special Permit will not be applicable to:

  • existing hotels, which will be allowed to remain, be enlarged (less than 20% increase to floor area), altered, extended and reconstructed in accordance with the provisions currently applicable to non-conforming uses;
  • existing hotels that are vacant or have converted to another use, which will have six years from the date of adoption of the text to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) for their hotel use, after which the hotel use will become discontinued and lose its “non-conforming” status;
  • hotel projects that have filed an application (foundation, new building or alteration) with the Department of Buildings (DOB) before May 3, 2021, have received DOB approval by the date of adoption of the text amendment, and received a CO within 6 years from the date of adoption of the text amendment; and
  • hotel projects that have been approved by the CPC or the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) after 1/1/2018 or that have been filed with the BSA or “certified” by CPC before the adoption of the text amendment, will have to have to have a CO within 6 years from the date of adoption of the text amendment.

The only finding required by the proposed Hotel Special Permit is that the proposed hotel use would not impair the future use or development of the surrounding area. This proposed Hotel Special Permit covers proposed hotels in all Special Districts and removes any existing findings for hotel special permits in a Special District.

At today’s referral, the CPC Commissioners questioned the rationale behind the proposal, its far-reaching implications, and whether its current timing, while the City’s tourism industry is still recovering from the pandemic, is appropriate. These questions will likely be explored further during the City’s public review process, where the proposal will be reviewed by the City’s Community Boards, Borough Boards, Borough Presidents, the CPC, and ultimately, the City Council. The public review process for the proposed Hotel Special Permit is expected to be complete by Fall of 2021, at which time, if the zoning text is approved, the Special Permit will take effect. We will continue to monitor the process and advise on any updates. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions about the proposed Hotel Special Permit.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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