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Carter's View

Several community organizations have written letters to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Amanda Burden, chairperson of the City Planning Commission, and Patricia Lancaster, Commssioner of the Department of Buildings to express their concerns about hotel-condos in manufacturing zones.

The letter, which was dated June 16, 2006, stated that the organizations have "very strong concerns about the plan announced by Donald Trump to construct a 45-story hotel/condo at 246 Spring Street in Manhattan," noting that they were "very concerned that granting permits for this project would not only have a devastating impact upon the immediate area, but undo long-standing zoning regulations which have been reaffirmed in recent years prohibiting residential uses - even when they are called 'hotels' - in manufacturing zones."

"By all published accounts, this hotel would actually allow owners of individual units to live there year round. In the Department of Buildings' own ruling of April 19, 2004, which disallowed a plan for a combination hotel/residence at 848 Washington Street, the department interpreted this to require that 'in order to develop a transient hotel in a manufacturing district, units may not be made subject to sale, lease, or other arrangements under which they would not be available for transient occupancy."

The letter was signed by Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Don Clark MacPherson, executive director of the SoHo Arts Council, Inc., Sean Sweeney, executive director of the SoHo Alliance, Carole Desarem, president of the Tribeca Community Association, and David Reck, president, Friends of Hudson Square.

"There are perfectly legal options a developer may purse to get permission for uses not currently allowed in a zoning district in which he seeks to develop. However, a sly circumvention of the law such as this which eliminates public imput and appropriate oversight from the bodies which regulate land use in our city is not the way to do it," the letter maintained.

Mr. Berman appeared last night before the land-use committee of Community Board 5 to get support for the position advanced in the letter. He also distributed copies of a June 28, 2006 letter to Ms. Burden and Ms. Lancaster by City Councilman Tony Avella, who represents northeast Queens. In that letter, Mr. Avella said that "The City of New York should not bend the rules for any developer, no matter how well known."

Mr. Berman indicated that support was being sought from several community boards, adding that the issue is on the July 13 agenda for Community Board 2. "Even though we wouldn't like it, he [Donald Trump could make it a transient hotel," Mr. Berman declared. Mr. Berman noted that the Department of Buildings had not yet issued permits for the project, adding however, "we don't want to take any chances" and "time is of the essence."

The project is a venture of Bayrock/Sapir LLC, a partnership of the Bayrock Group, Tamir Sapir and Donald Trump, and is known as Trump International Hotel and Tower SoHo. Gary Handel is the architect for the development which will be 454 feet high and have more than 400 "hotel condo" units. Purchasers of the units can decide how long they wish to use them and whether they want the hotel's management to rent them out, according to Julius R. Schwarz, executive vice president of the Bayrock Group.

The tower is expected to be the tallest between Lower Manhattan and Madison Square Park.

Mr. Schwarz has previously told that the project is "as-of-right," that is, it can be built within existing building and zoning regulations. The project has frontage on Spring, Varick and Dominick Streets and is not far from the Holland Tunnel and the Hudson River Park. It is also close to several new condominium apartment developments at 300, 304 and 330 Spring Street and is convenient also to TriBeCa.
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Additional Info About the Building

Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.