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Large Portion of LIC Will Not Be Subject to City’s Plan to Limit Hotel Development

Red Lion Inn & Suites in Long Island City. Hotels in this area would not be subject to the city’s proposed special building permit. (Google Maps)

May 1, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

A large stretch of Long Island City will be exempt from the city’s new plan to curb hotel development throughout the five boroughs.

The city’s proposal would require hotel developers to obtain a special permit–requiring a lengthy public approval process–to build in certain manufacturing and industrial districts around the city. The Department of City Planning, the agency behind the effort, began the public review process to amend the zoning text that would require these permits just days ago.

The city says rampant hotel development in M1 zoning districts, where such development is legally allowed, has created a mixture of problems and unintended outcomes for some neighborhoods. Some hotels in areas with a heavy industrial presence simply don’t mesh and drive out industrial businesses, for example, while other hotels have spurred tourist-oriented changes in a given area.

But in the Special Long Island City Mixed Use District, a roughly 40-block section from Hunters Point to Dutch Kills that includes residential and M1 manufacturing zones, the amendment won’t apply, despite it applying to most manufacturing districts around the city.

A map showing areas that will be affected by the M1 Hotel Text Amendment. The Special Long Island City Mixed Use District (light blue) would be exempt from the special permit requirement. The areas in orange would fall under the permit requirement. (DCP)

The city, which has been working on the proposal since 2015, says the special mixed use district was excluded because it has the infrastructure in place to support hotel development without it detrimentally affecting communities in it.

Amanda Eyer, a project manager at the Department of City Planning, said in an October Community Board 2 Land Use meeting that the amendment’s focus is to protect pure manufacturing and industrial zones, not mixed zones like special Long Island City Mixed Use District.

“Ultimately, we do think there need to be some places where hotels get built as of right,” Eyer said.

But Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee raised concerns with the exclusion of the mixed use district in the amendment, including its effectiveness and scope.

Lisa Deller, Land Use Chair, was opposed to the city’s assessment of the special use district, and called for the permit area to apply there. Deller cited Long Island City’s booming hotel and residential growth and “mixed reviews on how these hotels are operating,” including the city’s use of hotels in the area to shelter the homeless.

While the special district was ultimately left out of the text amendment, considerable sections of Long Island City, mostly wrapping around the special district, will fall under the special permit areas if the amendment passes.

Hotel developers looking to build by Hotel Z would need a special permit if the text amendment passes. (Google Maps)

Many, however, think the proposal should still cover a larger portion of Long Island City.

“The M1 Hotel Text Amendment provides much needed control in the Industrial Business Zone but it does not provide protection in the low rise residential areas,” said the LIC Coalition, a local community group.

“There is no reason to believe that once squeezed out of the M1 zone, hotel developers would not seek opportunities where they can,” the group added.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said in a statement that the amendment is a good start, but does not go far enough.

“Long Island City is inundated with hotels, particularly in the areas that will not be affected by this change,” he said. “I am in talks with the administration fighting to have the exempt zones in LIC included in this amendment. Unless and until there is a clear, broad need to build additional hotels in this neighborhood, developers should have to go through a rigorous public process to demonstrate that a hotel is both needed and that this use is good for the community.”

Other areas exempt from the special permit requirement include sections of East Elmhurst, Ozone Park, and Springfield Gardens, given their proximity to the airports. The city will also be exempt from the special permit requirement if it operates hotels to provide temporary shelter to the homeless and other public purposes.

The LIC Partnership says there are currently more than 3,200 hotel rooms in Long Island City, with over 4,600 being planning or in construction.

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Tusher Bhuiyan

We need some nice medium residential neighborhood from 9th street to 14th street from 37th Ave to 40th Ave. Full of warehouses still all over now, theses has to go somewhere else.


Everyone should look at the The Court Square blog, there’s a post saying a permit has been approved to develop a hotel at 21-18 44th Drive by Amsterdam Hospitality. This company is notorious for operating run down homeless shelters, plagued with crime and unsafe, unsanitary, living conditions. Bring this up at the Community Board meeting. This must be stopped.


This is crazy. Hotels on quiet residential side streets between Vernon Boulevard and 5th Street would be allowed without any Special Permit? What idiot proposed this idea?


Everyone should come out to Community Board Meeting tomorrow Thursday, May 3, 2018 6:30 PM on 39th street at the Sunnyside Community Center.

The hotel business has turned into the housing of the homeless business. These hotels on the fringes of LIC will become homeless housing sites. Our mayor has declared a homeless emergency and DHS gives no advance notice to the community – overnight they place homeless in these hotels, these are our new neighbors. Our councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will throw his hands up and say I did not know this was happening, but he continues to take money from these developers, our CB2 land use planning chairman Lisa Deller knows what building plans have been submitted and where and when hotels are being built months and sometimes years in advance, but no advance notice to the community. These hotels will be part of the 90 permanent homeless shelters proposed by Mayor DiBlasio, shelters disguised as hotels only to be converted later to a homeless site paid for by us the NYC Tax Payer. As stores close, retail falters and malls sit empty due to online operators like Amazon developers have found a new niche — building hotels to house the homeless. Also note another hotel – 15 stories just broke ground on 33rd Street and Queens Blvd, next to the YMCA – bet this hotel will also become a homeless housing site, to be paid for by tax payers. Why not build housing for the working class poor create a community which takes pride where they live in new and decent housing?


Court Square does not need more hotels and should need a permit to build. What a JOKE this neighborhood has become. These future homeless shelters will be a blight on the neighborhood. Developers are running this city not the Mayor & City Council .


and Mr. JVB pockets are lined very heavily that is for sure he knows all about this before anyone else


Yes, that’s my point. It’s Court Square specifically that is always getting screwed. If you look at that map, the Court Square area is unprotected from this hotel development. Development of all kinds is rampant in this area in particular. Enough is enough

Ella D

I don’t understand how there are so many new apartment buildings and hotels going up around Court Square, but retail is COMPLETELY dead. Walking around that area is like being in a damn ghost town.

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