On December 9, 2021, the City Council adopted a text amendment to the New York City Zoning Resolution that imposes a special permit requirement for virtually all new hotels in NYC. City council members, community boards and certain labor groups strongly supported the special permit. Community groups expressed concern about the neighborhood impact of the City’s astonishing growth in tourism. Labor groups focused on ensuring new hotels are solely high-quality, high-wage operations. Between 1997 and 2017, the annual number of tourists visiting New York City rose from about 33,000,000 to 63,000,000. The number of hotel rooms nearly doubled to meet that growth.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic virtually shut down the City’s tourist industry, NYC & Co., the City’s tourism agency recently estimated that visitors to the City will number 56,000,000 in 2022. The demand for hotel rooms seems poised to return. At the same time the New York State Legislature and Governor continue to debate legislative changes to make it easier to convert hotels to residential buildings. These changes to the NYS Multiple Dwelling Law could loosen certain bulk limitations and allow conversion without changing a certificate of occupancy while requiring the converted hotel to include affordable housing.
As these historic changes are considered and adopted, Carter Ledyard’s land use group is providing counsel to a variety of actors pushing to enact the new rules and facilitate conversions. At the same time, we also provided counsel to hoteliers on their vested rights to build hotels under the original rules and issued zoning opinions to support financing for their new hotels.
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