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Councilman Proposes Bill to Alert Neighborhoods When Hotel Construction Is Headed Their Way

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TWC News: Councilman Proposes Bill to Alert Neighborhoods When Hotel Construction Is Headed Their Way
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Hotels are booming and breaking ground across the city, and now, a city councilman wants to require that neighborhoods get a heads up when hotels are heading their way, a proposal that's getting some unexpected criticism, including from the mayor.

A Maryland resident is staying at the Wyndham Garden in Chinatown for the second time.

"It's centrally located, so that's good," the resident said.

The hotel, towering over its neighbors, opened in 2012. It was not exactly welcome in the community.

The story has been repeated in other parts of the city.

As a result, City Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn wants to require that the city notify community boards when a new hotel is under construction. Community boards would then hold a non-binding public hearing.

That proposal saw unexpected opposition on Wednesday, creating an unlikely alliance, from the city's real estate board to the hotel workers' union.

"Mandating community board reviews would undermine the city's ability to grow organically and flexibly," said Angela Sung Pinsky of the Real Estate Board of New York.

"This bill as currently written requires more of a conversation with stakeholders to make sure that the impact is the intended impact and not an impact on an industry that is extremely important to the growth and direction of the city of New York," said Josh Gold of the New York Hotel Trades Council.

The de Blasio administration was also critical, saying that the bill raised serious questions.

"From our perspective, the proposal raises a whole host of operational questions," said James Colgate of the Department of Buildings.

Colgate listed several concerns at the hearing.

"There may be some unintended consequences," he said.

"We are concerned that the public hearing process would create the misperception that the community's opposition will result in a denial of a permit," he also said.

"This could have an adverse effect on the new construction of affordable housing," he also said.

"I would love to learn more about the affordable housing part," Williams said. "That seems a little bit strange."

Stakeholders said it's a matter of balancing the city's economy against the interest of certain communities. The councilman said his proposal does just that.

"This will be like any other bill," Williams said. "We'll take the information that we got, make the bill better."

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