Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yet Another Hotel Planned for Gowanus

I'll grant that it is a decent looking rendering, as far as that goes.

Another hotel slated for Gowanus manufacturing zone. 

I recall appearing with then-Councilman Bill deBlasio and then-rival Brad Lander almost 5 years ago at a press conference in Gowanus in protest of the loophole that allows wanton hotel construction in manufacturing zones.  This particular area has changed quite a bit, with the Holiday Inn across from the still-extant automotive uses (good ones too - we've had cars serviced at two separate businesses on this block with no complaints), Dinosaur BBQ opening in May, and the Royal Palms Shuffleboarrd Club coming soon on the next block.

In a 2011 profile of Brad Lander, he discussed the problem with this zoning quirk:
Lander believes that the City has not allocated sufficient resources to retain and promote manufacturing uses. While generally supportive of the 22 initiatives proposed by the Mayor's Office of Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses in June, Lander believes that these efforts must be expanded. One initiative included a proposed special permit for siting large hotel uses within designated Industrial Business Zones. Lander notes that large hotels as well as other major commercial uses command higher rents than manufacturing businesses and thereby contribute to the erosion of the City's manufacturing base. The special permit would require a finding that a proposed hotel development is compatible with the manufacturing policy of the Industrial Business Zones. Lander would like to see the hotel special permit requirement expanded to include big box retailers and large office buildings and to apply to all of the City's manufacturing zoning districts.
Lander takes issue with the City's usage of mixed-use zoning districts as well, citing the proposed Gowanus rezoning as an example. According to Lander, these "transitional" districts provide no protection for manufacturing businesses and therefore facilitate the conversion of manufacturing uses to residential uses. Traditional land use controls, such as height limits or inclusionary zoning, likewise cannot protect manufacturing. Finding a new solution, Lander explains, is part of the Council's role in the land use review process.

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