Following Backlash, City Drops Plan for Hotel Special Permit Requirement South of Union Square – Push for Real Protections

University Place

Following a huge backlash from neighborhood residents, the City has withdrawn its much criticized rezoning plan to require special permits for new hotels in the area of Greenwich Village and the East Village south of Union Square. Village Preservation had led the criticism of the plan, citing the broad range of mistakes and oversights in the City’s environmental analysis as well as the near complete lack of protection the plan would offer.

Village Preservation at the City’s public hearing on the South of Union Square Hotel Special Permit Plan 

The plan originated from Councilmember Rivera’s deal to support the upzoning for Mayor de Blasio’s 14th Street Tech Hub, which increased development pressure on this area. That deal did not provide the comprehensive neighborhood protections Councilmember Rivera promised when running for office in 2017 would be necessary to gain her support for the plan, and was necessary to preserve the surrounding endangered neighborhood. By the city’s own analysis, the hotel special permit plan would have accomplished virtually nothing in terms of neighborhood protections, still allowing the demolition of low-scale, historic, and residential buildings in the area and their replacement with commercial high-rises – only they would likely be office buildings instead of the hotels previously allowed. We made clear this was zero help, and came nowhere near fulfilling Councilmember Rivera’s promise to secure real protections for this neighborhood as a condition of her support for the Tech Hub upzoning.

Map showing area (outlined in red) the City proposed to rezone

Community Boards 2 and 3 and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (who also supported the Tech Hub upzoning) agreed with us and urged the City to shelve the plan and come back with real neighborhood zoning and landmark protections, as we have proposed and been fighting for many months to secure. With the plan now shelved, it’s time for the City and Councilmember Rivera to support these long overdue protections:

November 24, 2020