PRESS RELEASE: Community Groups, Elected Officials call Trump SoHo 'Condo Hotel' An Illegal Sham That Violates Local & Federal Laws
Manhattan -- The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), the SoHo Alliance, Community Board #2, dozens of downtown community groups, and City Council Zoning Chair Tony Avella gathered today to denounce the Trump SoHo Condo-Hotel under construction at 246 Spring Street as an illegal sham which violates city zoning regulations and federal securities exchange requirements, and announced a lawsuit intended to overturn the city's approval of the project. Those gathered also condemned the City for its steadfast support for the project, which will now include using taxpayer dollars to go to court to defend Trump (click here and here for correspondences from the City rejecting neighbors' attempts to resolve the legal questions without litigation). Dozens of community and business groups and elected officials from across the City (see list below) have called upon the Mayor and city agencies not to approve plans for the Trump project because it violates zoning regulations by -- for the first-time ever -- allowing 'condo-hotels' in districts where residences are prohibited.
"First the City bends the rules to let Trump build. Now they're going to spend taxpayer dollars to defend his project in court. The City's double-standard in this case is mind-boggling and unconscionable," stated GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman. "I wonder how the taxpayers will feel when they learn that the City is footing Trump's legal bill?'" said SoHo Alliance Director Sean Sweeney.
By an agreement between the City and the developer, individuals will be allowed to buy units at the Trump SoHo 'Condo-Hotel' and legally live in them for up to 120 days a year, which opponents argue already violates the prohibition on residential uses. But opponents also argue that even the 120-day limit is virtually unenforceable and meaningless, and some owners will live in units year-round as they do in condo-hotels throughout the country (click here for copy of 'restrictive declaration'). In light of the City's refusal to resolve these issues, the SoHo Alliance announced its intention to sue the City to overturn the approval of the project.
By the City's own admission, the agreement signed with the Trump developers limiting owners to stays of 120 days per year is "strictly voluntary," while the City claims the Department of Buildings will have the resources and the ability to monitor all units at the Trump condo-hotel to ensure that owners do not stay more than the legally allowable time.
"The Department of Buildings has enough trouble keeping buildings from falling down -- we're expected to believe that they will monitor all 400-plus units at Trump's condo to guarantee that its jet-set residents don't stay more than the legally allowable number of days? The agreement they have with the City supposedly ensuring the legality of this project has more holes in it than swiss cheese," said GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman.
Community groups also slammed the project as woefully out of scale and character with the neighborhood, and likely to exacerbate the stifling gridlock at the nearby Holland Tunnel entrance. Had the project been forced to go through a zoning change approval process, as advocates claim the law requires, concerns about the size, scale, and impact of the project could have been addressed."Trump's Colossus will tower over Lower Manhattan as a monument to one man's ego, and the scandal is that the City permitting this to happen," said Sweeney.
Protestors also criticized the city for its failure to follow up on promises to rezone the area to prohibit such out-of-scale development, as well as to close the supposed "loophole" in the zoning which the City claimed forced them to allow the Trump project. "The City wants to have it both ways-- they claim their hands are tied with the Trump project under current zoning, and yet they have not moved an inch to change it. The City Planning Commission and the City Council need to move forward as soon as possible on promises to rezone this area to address out of control development," stated GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman.
"A condo hotel in an M-zone is luxury housing camouflaged as a transient hotel. By allowing the condo hotel to proceed at 246 Spring Street, the city is complicit in allowing developers to exploit a zoning loophole--at the expense of a fuller public review of a change in use, and ultimately, potentially, at the expense of well-paying manufacturing jobs," said Eve Baron of the Municipal Art Society, one of dozens of groups citywide which opposed the Trump project.
For further information on the Trump SoHo Condo-Hotel and community efforts to stop it, see vparchive.gvshp.org/trump.htm.
Elected Officials, Community Groups, Business Groups, Planning Organizations, and Community Boards Opposing Approval of the Trump SoHo Condo-Hotel
(list in formation, as of September 19, 2007)
City Council Zoning Subcommittee Chair Tony Avella
State Senator Martin Connor
State Senator Liz Kruger
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery
City Councilmember Gale Brewer
City Councilmember Miguel Martinez
Assemblymember Deborah Glick
Assemblymember Richard Gottfried
Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell
Municipal Art Society
Pratt Center for Community Development
Zoning for Jobs Coalition
New York Industrial Retention Network
Pratt Center for Community Development
Garment Industry Development Corporation
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Housing Conservation Coordinators
Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation
Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation
Harlem Community Development Corporation
Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center
Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association
Community Board #1, Brooklyn (Williamsburg/Greenpoint)
Community Board 1, Manhattan (Tribeca, Seaport, Financial District)
Community Board 2, Manhattan (Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy, NoHo)
Community Board 4, Manhattan (Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen)
Community Board 5, Manhattan (Midtown, Garment Center, Flatiron)
SoHo Arts Council
Friends of Hudson Square
Tribeca Community Association
Williamsburg-Greenpoint Waterfront Alliance
Charlton Street Block Association
Greenwich Village Block Associations
VanDam Street Block Association
Carmine Street Block Association
Chelsea Council of Block Associations