August 16, 2023

Law360 Quotes Hilary Atzrott Hamburg in an Article About How NYC Zoning Rules Slow Rockefeller Center Hotel’s Course

3 min

On August 16, 2023, Hilary Atzrott Hamburg was quoted in a Law360 article about how NYC zoning rules are slowing Rockefeller Center hotels’ course. According to the article, hotels will have to carve their way through the twists and turns of New York City’s zoning rules — made even more labyrinthine on Dec. 9, 2021, when the City Council adopted a text amendment affecting hotel construction in all five boroughs. As of that date, hotel building projects are no longer permitted in New York on an “as-of-right” basis, a privilege hotels had enjoyed since 1916, when the city adopted the country’s first zoning resolution, according to the City Planning Commission. As-of-right developments already comply with applicable zoning regulations and don’t require further action by the city, but decades of politics, planning reports and land use maps are now catching up with hotel construction.

Hamburg said, “I do know that trade unions were excited about the special permit because it allows them to have a seat at the table and to leverage the political process.”

Any hotel that wants to open in New York City now has to show the project won’t impair future use or development of the surrounding area, according to Hamburg. For the city to make that determination, she said, it requires applicants to conduct an environmental review and to go through a months long Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Also, Hamburg said, some of her clients are seeking clarity as to what the new law says about hotels that were shut down during the pandemic and are now being brought back online.

For example, she said, existing hotels that are converted to other uses may convert back to a hotel use up to six years from the date of the special permit’s adoption without having to obtain the permit.

Since the Little Nell is the first hotel to go through the permitting process, Hamburg has been monitoring the development. Once it’s filed with the City Planning Commission, the permit will become public record, but for now, new projects are at a standstill, she said.

“Nothing is proceeding because people want to see how the process works, and they don’t want to be the hotel of first impression,” Hamburg said. “I do think that land use attorneys in general are really looking at how the Little Nell goes. We will look at how the [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure] goes, and we want to see the issues that come up at community board hearings and at the City Planning Commission hearings.”

Click here to read the article.