As New York City’s population and employment numbers hit record highs, competition for buildable land is increasing. Light Manufacturing zoning districts (M1 zones) have emerged as areas of opportunity, presenting some of the city’s last reservoirs of buildable land, but rules regulating land use and development in these districts have changed little since the city was comprehensively rezoned in 1961. The Department of City Planning needs to ensure that sufficient opportunities for industrial, commercial, and institutional growth remain, and believes it would be beneficial to revisit the zoning framework for M1 districts. In this context, the proliferation of hotels in M1 districts is seen as problematic.
Since 2010, there has been a rapid increase in hotels in M1 districts, particularly in areas near transit. Citywide, 13% of existing hotel rooms are in M1 districts, whereas 30% of hotel rooms in the development pipeline are slated to be built in M1 districts. This is due to a combination of rapid growth in tourism in New York City over the last decade and the current M1 zoning framework, which is particularly well suited to hotel construction.
Hotels may directly or indirectly detract from opportunities for other kinds of development, by occupying vacant or underdeveloped sites that could have been available to other uses better equipped to fulfill neighborhood development objectives and needs, or by accelerating neighborhood change with the expansion of tourism-oriented uses. Given the disparate characteristics of the city’s M1 districts and M districts’ position as potential areas to support economic opportunity and services for a growing residential population, more careful thought about the trajectory of hotel development is appropriate.
The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) is proposing a zoning text amendment to establish a new Special Permit under the jurisdiction of the City Planning Commission for new hotels, motels, tourist cabins, and boatels in light manufacturing (M1) districts citywide. A Special Permit is a discretionary action by the City Planning Commission, subject to the public review process (ULURP), which may modify use regulations if certain conditions specified in the Zoning Resolution are met. The public review process includes Community Board, Borough President, and City Planning Commission review. The City Council may elect to review a Special Permit application and Mayoral review is also optional.
Because there are very few motels, tourist cabins, or boatels in NYC, the term hotel is used here to refer to all of these transient accommodations.
The Department of City Planning needs to ensure that sufficient opportunities for industrial, commercial, and institutional growth remain, and believes it would be beneficial to revisit the zoning framework for M1 districts. However, since 2010, there has been a rapid increase in hotels in M1 districts, particularly in areas near transit. A market analysis of the city’s hotel conditions, produced by a real estate and economics consultant team engaged by DCP, assessed current and anticipated future conditions in the hotel industry in New York City.
The increase in hotels is due to a combination of rapid growth in tourism in New York City over the last decade and partly to the current zoning framework, which in M1 districts is particularly well suited to hotel construction. DCP has recognized that the following aspects of the zoning of M1 districts make it especially suitable for hotel development:
By establishing a new CPC special permit, DCP proposes a case-by-case, site-specific review process to ensure that hotel development occurs only on appropriate sites, based on reasonable considerations regarding whether a hotel presents the potential for conflicts with the surrounding uses and how well a hotel reflects the general character of the surrounding area. A CPC special permit would allow for the consideration of appropriateness of hotel development in both the actively light industrial areas, where hotels and existing uses are potentially incompatible, and the more mixed-use areas within M1 districts, where the City may want to direct growth towards various other employment sectors. A CPC special permit would also still allow for hotels to serve the needs of the tourism industry when appropriate.
Transient hotels operated for a public purpose by the City of New York or organizations under contract with City will be exempt from the Special Permit requirement. Hotels operated for a public purpose are primarily used to provide temporary housing assistance, or shelter, to homeless individuals and families. It is a legal obligation of the City to provide shelter to all eligible persons within the five boroughs, and the City must maintain the existing flexibility in zoning that permits temporary housing for the homeless in all M1 districts to ensure it has sufficient capacity to meet census demand for temporary accommodations.
The proposed CPC Special Permit would apply to all M1 districts, excluding MX or paired M1/R districts, except for:
Any hotel existing within M1 districts on the date of adoption of the proposed zoning text amendment would be considered a conforming use, meaning that any enlargement or extension would be permitted so long as it does not exceed 20% of the existing floor area and the zoning lot is not enlarged. Any enlargement or extension that does exceed 20% would require the proposed Special Permit. Additionally, hotel developments with a building permit or partial permit issued by the Department of Buildings before the referral date of the proposed action would be permitted to start or continue construction as long as they complete their construction and obtain a certificate of occupancy within three years of the date of adoption of the proposed zoning text amendment.
These maps are illustrative and for general reference purposes only. They are based on PLUTO 16v2 zoning district data. Lots split by zoning districts may not be accurately depicted, and thus the split lot regulations in Section 77-00 of NYC Zoning Resolution may apply. For more specific zoning information about particular properties, see the Zoning Maps, use the Zoning and Land Use Application (ZoLa) or email us at M1hotels_DL@planning.nyc.gov.
Choose a community district below to see a map of the area in pdf format.
A public scoping meeting was held on Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 2:00pm at Spector Hall, 22 Reade Street, New York, New York, 10007. Written comments were accepted by the lead agency until the close of business on Monday, November 6, 2017.