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TRUMP CAUGHT YET AGAIN! GVSHP Receives E-Mail Solicitation for Trump SoHo Condo-Hotel “Residences”

Trump Caught Again:  On Wednesday, GVSHP received an e-mail solicitation from a realtor seeking to sell units in the planned 45-story Trump SoHo ‘Condo-Hotel’ at 246 Spring Street; the solicitation, in response to GVSHP signing up for buyer information about the project several weeks ago, said that “residents” will be able to enjoy “fully serviced luxurious five star living.”  Of course it is illegal to develop residential or residential hotel uses at this site, and GVSHP and a citywide coalition of community groups, business groups, and elected officials have been arguing that the City should not issue permits for this development because it would violate the zoning.  This is the fourth time in two weeks that advertisements for “residences” at the planned Trump project have been found.  After prior instances uncovered by GVSHP and Borough President Scott Stringer, Trump and his development partners claimed these were “mistakes” that had been “corrected.”  Apparently not.  See coverage of this in the December 22 Metro NY

GVSHP immediately sent the damning solicitation to City officials and again urged that no permits be issued for the project because it violates the zoning (CLICK HERE for letter).  Trump has excavation but not building permits, though the City has thus far said that they do not see any zoning conflicts between a ‘condo-hotel’ – where people own units and stay in them for extended periods of time – and the prohibitions against residences and residential hotels in this or any other zoning district.  

Regardless of whether or not these ads are “corrected” or removed, GVSHP continues to urge the City not to allow any condo-hotel in districts where the development of residences and residential hotels are not allowed.  To do so would suddenly allow a very lucrative and previously prohibited type of high-rise development in any neighborhood zoned for ‘light manufacturing,’ which includes parts of the Far West Village, Hudson Square, the Meatpacking District, Tribeca, SoHo, NoHo, West Chelsea, the Flatiron, the Garment Center, western Hell’s Kitchen, and other areas (see map HERE).  GVSHP continues to contend that the ONLY way such uses can be legal is if the developer seeks and gets approval for a zoning change.  A zoning change requires public hearings, assessment of environmental impacts, and an opportunity for the public to shape and tailor development to fit what is appropriate for a neighborhood, or to reject it altogether.  The current plan completely sidesteps this legally required public process.

Trump Stop-Work Order Partially Lifted:  GVSHP praised the City last week for issuing a stop-work order at the Trump site following the discovery of more than 100 year old human remains which were disturbed and unearthed during excavation for the development.  However, we also urged that in evaluating the archaeological discovery, the City require that State and City environmental protocols be followed, the same ones which would have been mandated if this project had been required to seek a zoning change, as GVSHP and many others have said it should.  Following these environmental protocols would have likely prevented the excavation work which disturbed and unearthed the burial ground.  However, once the remains were found, the protocols would have also required a full evaluation of the origins and significance of the site and, if warranted, formulating an appropriate plan for either preserving the burial ground on-site or for relocating it off-site. 

Unfortunately the City refused to do this, again claiming that this was an “as-of-right” project and therefore did not need to abide by these regulations, and partially lifted the stop-work order, allowing excavation to again resume (CLICK HERE for letter).  According to information attained by GVSHP and shared with the City, the graveyard on the site appears to either be attached to a 19th century abolitionist Presbyterian church, noteworthy at the time for its work with African-American anti-slavery groups (CLICK HERE for history), or might pre-date the church as far back as the era of freed slave or Native American settlement of the area.  Without any information about a full evaluation of the site’s significance, the City appeared satisfied that the developers would simply contact the Presbyterian Church to ask if them to take the remains, identify who they originally belonged to, and track down their ancestors to see if they wished to take possession of them.  GVSHP sent a letter of protest condemning this decision (CLICK HERE for letter).

Click HERE and HERE for articles in the The New York Sun, The Villager, and downtown express.

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