Sunset Park’s hotel boom paving way for condos in industrial areas, factory fans warn • Brooklyn Paper

Sunset Park’s hotel boom paving way for condos in industrial areas, factory fans warn

New hotel, new worries: Sunset Parkers are concerned that a building being constructed as a hotel on the corner of 30th Street and Fourth avenue is going to instead house the homeless.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

These short-stays may be part of a longer game.

Developers are building hotels in industrial sections of Sunset Park and Green-Wood Heights at breakneck pace in order to get areas rezoned for luxury housing, according to real-estate watchers. Builders cannot put apartments on manufacturing land, but they can create hotels there — and doing so paves the way for future housing development, which can demolish good-paying jobs, one advocate warns.

“As an organization, we have a huge concern about hotels in industrial zones,” said David Meade, director of the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Cooperation. “I think our community is certainly not looking for any kind of residential conversion along the waterfront — we want businesses to stay there. But hotels could ultimately be the types of uses that could further push the pendulum that way.”

The city makes the rules about what can be built where, and it says you cannot put apartments on land zoned for a factory, but build enough hotels and officials have an easier time justifying rezoning for residences, because there is existing housing, advocates say. Then erstwhile hoteliers will turn the growing number of inns — many of which are currently being used as temporary homeless shelters — into apartments, another real-estate observer said.

“A lot of people — including myself — believe that hotels are being built in these areas to encourage zoning changes, because if it changes, they can easily knock down walls and convert hotels into housing,” said David Powell, a director at the Fifth Avenue Committee, which builds and manages low-income housing.

The push for residential development on industrial waterfronts has uprooted manufacturing before. In 2005, as Williamsburg and Greenpoint rose in popularity, the city rezoned a 75-block swath of the neighborhoods from industrial to mixed-use residential — the result was a boom of luxury condominiums construction.

Mayor DeBlasio has pledged to make it tougher for developers to build hotels in Industrial Business Zones — areas with special tax credits meant to spur manufacturing — but he has said little on the proposal over the last year. His plan would require special approval for any hotel within an Industrial Business Zone, and he intends to let the public see his idea in greater detail in a few months, a rep said.

“The administration is on track to submit proposals for public review by the end of the year,” said mayoral spokeswoman Melissa Grace.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at mspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow him on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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