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Real estate industry turns to Bill de Blasio to expedite approvals

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: NYC.Gov)

Within the next eight months, the de Blasio administration hopes to rezone Gowanus + Soho and upend hotel construction citywide, The Real Deal reported. At the same time, more than four dozen private rezoning applications aim to win City Council support — or risk restarting negotiations with a new regime.

Dig Deeper: Any election year would add urgency to the approval process for zoning changes, special permits and other types of applications, but this year the pressure is even greater because the city suspended its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (AKA ULURP) for six months during the pandemic, causing applications to back up.

By the Numbers: Since it resumed Sept. 14, some 51 proposals have entered the seven-month public process, according to the Department of City Planning, which calculated the volume through the end of March. That’s nearly twice as many as during the same period a year ago, TRD noted.

How we got here: Term limits prevent Mayor Bill de Blasio and 35 of the 51 Council members from seeking re-election this year. So virtually all applications not decided by Dec. 31 will be at the mercy of an as-yet unknown person. Few developers will take a significant project into public review — a process that can itself cost more than $1 million for studies, legal fees and other expenses — with that kind of uncertainty. That means developers must get their applications into public review by late May.

What else we’re watching: The administration is also pushing to require special permits for new hotel construction throughout the city, which would force developers into ULURP to build or expand a hotel. The city has framed the proposal — which itself requires City Council approval — as a way to ensure “more predictable development” and to limit “the extent to which a hotel use may impair the future use or development of the surrounding area.” Critics have called the proposal a favor to the Hotel Trades Council, a longtime de Blasio ally, TRD reported.

Heard on the Street: Duval & Stachenfeld’s Robin Kramer: “If it doesn’t get done in this administration, it isn’t happening, probably. There’s no planning rationale.”

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