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One-third of NYC hotel rooms were wiped out by COVID-19

One-third of NYC hotel rooms were wiped out by COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hell on New York’s tourism-heavy hotel industry.

New data released by the Department of City Planning showed 146 of the city’s 705 hotels have closed — or 20 percent.

The closures account for 42,030 or one-third of the city’s 128,000 hotel rooms.

The hotel industry won’t fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2025, the analysis said.

But the head of the New York City Hotel Association said the industry’s depression is worse than portrayed by the city.

About 200 hotels have closed, said Vijay Dandapani, the hotel association executive director.

“We have hotels closing every day,” Dandapani said. “We fell off a cliff.”

Dandapani said the city’s figures are based on dated tax data.

He said the Big Apple’s hotel industry is in the worst shape of any municipality in the country and may not see a recovery until 2016.

Dandapani said many hotels — facing a daunting cash crisis and unable to pay their property tax debt and mortgage payments — will never reopen.

His group is launching a campaign to persuade Mayor Bill de Blasio to waive or reduce the 18 percent interest penalty on hotels that are unable to pay their property tax bills.

Amid the tumult, the de Blasio administration is pushing ahead with a controversial zoning law change that would require all newly proposed hotels citywide to go through the lengthy land-use review procedure to obtain a special permit to operate. City Planning officials released the sobering number of hotel closures during the opening of a public hearing on the proposal last week

The zoning change is a head-scratcher given the crisis in the hotel industry, Dandapani said.

“I don’t know what person in his right mind will be opening a new hotel in the city,” he said.

The measure is supported by the powerful Hotel Trades Council, which is seeking to use its clout to block the opening of hotels that don’t use union labor, critics claim.

The HTC has pumped more than $600,000 into the campaign coffers of 51 current or aspiring City Council members, some of whom testified on behalf of the zoning rule change last week, on top of support for de Blasio.

Invoking ULURP would give communities more say and the Council veto power over the location of proposed hotels.

“It is no secret that the Hotel Trades Council is a powerful political force in this city and their financial support of of legislators and particularly the mayor is the only reason we’re discussing this,” testified real estate investor Ben Carlos Thypin.

Legislators who testified in support of zoning rules giving them more say over hotel sitings included Council members Keith Powers, Ben Kallos, Carlos Menchaca and Justin Brannan, as well as Assembly members Carmen Delarosa and Emily Gallagher and state Sen. Brad Hoylman.

“In too many cases when build without proper review new hotels cause quality of life problems for nearby residents,” said Hoylman (D-Manhattan).”

Other supporters argued the stricter review will prevent hotel owners from misleading the community with bait and switch tactics that turn their facilities into homeless shelters or cut-rate flophouses that turn into havens for criminals — such as the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens, where a 20-year-old man was shot and killed on New Year’s Day.

The murder provoked community outrage, with de Blasio ordering the hotel be shuttered.

De Blasio previously denied that his support of the hotel zoning change was tied to HTC’s backing of his ill-fated presidential campaign.

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking to reporters on January 26, 2021.
Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking to reporters on Jan. 26, 2021.
Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Its 40,000 members accounted for nearly 70% of Hizzoner’s 6,700 individual donations, an analysis by The Post and the Center for Public Integrity showed.

A spokesman referred The Post to the mayor’s prior statements.

“We’ve got so much development in our city and some types of development have disproportionate impacts on communities. When a hotel comes in, you’re talking about a lot more activity, vehicular traffic, folks staying in the hotel. It has an impact that’s different than a residential building for example,” de Blasio said.

The Hotel Trades Council defended its support of the zoning change and noted it has worked closely with City Hall and council members for years to advance it.

“The Union has worked with the past two mayors and three City Council speakers to push for progress on a balanced zoning plan that ensures sustainable development and job growth opportunities. The last thing we need in this moment is Wild West unchecked developer expansion that will cannibalize the industry and do further harm to revenue generating hotels, New York City communities, and middle-class jobs,” said HTC president Rich Maroko.

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James Thompson

James Thompson has worked in various news organizations and now aims to make Report Door one of the best and fastest growing news websites in the U.S. He contributes to the US and World sections.

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