Category: Archive

Bill would impede Plaza plan

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The bill, though aimed at the recent uproar over the conversion of the Plaza, would apply to all hotels in the city.
New York City has seen a number of hotels recently announcing plans for condo conversions, such as the St. Regis. The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Union, a part of Local 6, said up to 1,100 jobs will be lost in the Plaza’s plan.
The bill has been assigned to the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee, where it will be voted on and then passed on for a vote by the entire Council. If it is moved through, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will then vote on it, though a majority veto by the Council can override his decision.
The 35 sponsors of the bill make up a veto-proof majority of the 51-seat Council.
The bill is expected to be fast-tracked because of the vitriol surrounding the issue, and prevents the Plaza’s owners, El-Ad Properties, from beginning any work on the conversions until it is voted on.
Irish-Americans made up much of the first incarnation of Local 6, and many still work in the hotel industry.
The impact of the Plaza’s conversion is expected to be felt by the pending job losses as well as for tourism-based industries, such as the horse-drawn carriage riders, many of whom are Irish, who count on tourists coming from the hotel.
Proponents of the bill say it would ensure ample space for the city’s much-needed tourism industry.
The Council cited figures that taxes generated by visitor spending exceeds $790 million per year.
El-Ad Properties, a subdivision of the Israeli-owned El-Ad Group, bought the 98-year-old hotel last year, and alluded that the Council’s bill was unconstitutional and infringed on basic property ownership rights. El-Ad is the sole owner of the building.
“We believe it’s an illegal bill and it will not be successful,” said Steve Solomon, a spokesman for El-Ad Properties. “It’s politically motivated.”
City Council speaker Gifford Miller, who has made his intentions of running for mayor this fall clear, declined to say how he would vote on the bill.
Sarah Mikutel, a spokeswoman for the Council, said that she did not believe the bill is unconstitutional.
“They wouldn’t be having a hearing on it,” she said. “I’m not the lawyer, but I don’t think it is.”
John Turchiano, spokesman for Local 6, told the Echo earlier this month that they were “hopeful,” and were counting on “a lot of public and political support.”
“There have been editorials raking this bill,” he added.
Calls to Local 6 were not returned by press time.

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