Not everyone is happy about the hotel boom: Industrial businesses say it has hit their neighborhoods with great force, making space scarcer and more expensive. A new study backs up that narrative, finding at least 115 hotels in M1-zoned areas, which are set aside for light manufacturing, and about 75 more on the way.
The report, by the Brooklyn-based Pratt Center for Community Development, also found that at least 11 hotels have been built since 2007 in industrial building zones, or IBZs, which were established in some manufacturing districts to further protect businesses there from residential development. Another 16 hotels are in the pipeline for IBZs.
Overall, the number of hotels in the city grew by 180, or 35%, between 2004 and 2013, according to the report.
Hotels can be built without any special approval in industrial areas, such as the garment district, Long Island City in Queens and the Gowanus and Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn. Tourism was at much lower levels when the zoning was written, and there was no expectation that guests would want to stay in gritty sections of the city with noisy machinery, trucks and few amenities—or anywhere outside of Manhattan, for that matter.
“The economics have changed since the zoning resolution was first passed,” said Adam Friedman, executive director at the Pratt Center, who has been speaking with the City Council about the issue. “In those days, hotels were not displacing manufacturing businesses, but now it’s dramatically different.”
The Pratt report proposes requiring special permits to build hotels in industrial areas. The report was partially funded by the Hotel and Motel Trades Council, a union supporting that idea. Most of the hotels built in manufacturing districts in recent years have been nonunion shops.
“Looking at the pipeline of future development, you see the concentrations of hotels, which really can have a dramatic impact in a lot of communities,” said Mr. Friedman. “The problem is only going to get more severe.”