Waiver Granted To Convert Residential Building to Hotel Use

Jay Segal speaks before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Jay Segal speaks before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

BSA exercised its authority under the Multiple Dwellings Law to permit the conversion.  On October 28, 2014, the Board of Standards and Appeals voted to grant the applicant, 84 William Street Property Owner LLC, a waiver of court dimension requirements to allow conversion of a mixed residential and commercial building into a transient hotel.  The building is located at 84 William Street in Manhattan’s Financial District, between Maiden Lane to the south and Platt Street to the north.

The building is seventeen stories covering 115,255 square feet, featuring 121 dwelling units and a court of 930 square feet with a minimum distance of 19 feet between window openings onto the court and the nearest building wall.  The proposal would enlarge the building by two stories and convert it into a transient hotel with 137 hotel rooms, but maintain the dimensions of the court.

On May 1, 2014 the Department of Buildings denied the LLC’s application because the existing court does not meet the minimum dimension requirements for a transient hotel established by Multiple Dwelling Law §26.7 and §30.  On May 22, 2014 the LLC applied to the Board for a waiver of these requirements to allow conversion of the hotel without expanding the court to meet the minimum dimension requirements.

A public hearing was held by the Board on October 7, 2014.  At the hearing, Jay Segal testified for the LLC.  Mr. Segal argued that because the building was built before July 1, 1948, the Board had the authority under MDL §310(2)(a) to modify requirements related to the minimum dimensions of its court, provided strict compliance with the requirements would cause practical difficulties or unnecessary hardships and the spirit and intent of the MDL is maintained.  Mr. Segal maintained strict compliance in this case would cause practical difficulty and unnecessary hardship, as constructing a compliant court would require extensive demolition and construction work, costing the applicant an additional $5,000,000 and decreasing revenue by $950,000 annually.  Mr. Segal also argued the primary intent of MDL §26.7 and §30 is to ensure rooms within multiple dwellings have necessary light and ventilation, and because the existing court is contiguous with an adjacent 550 square-foot court, the necessary light and ventilation will be present.  Mr. Segal testified the conversion would expand mechanical ventilation into all the rooms to supplement the natural ventilation.  No opposition was raised at the hearing.

On October 28, 2014 the Board voted 4-0 to grant the waiver.

BSA: 84 William Street, Manhattan (106-14-A) (Oct. 28, 2014) (Greenberg Traurig LLP, for 84 William Street Property Owner LLC, owner).

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014).

One thought on “Waiver Granted To Convert Residential Building to Hotel Use

  1. Interesting because there is no justification as to why the transient use is more appropriate or why the existing use was not viable. The only hint was the addition of mechanical ventilation which could be provided with the proposed additional floors adding to the existing use. This seems to set a precedent for not requiring coming into compliance for any existing prior to 1948 building while granting additional development and use permission or what I would call “the something for nothing” approach to not pursuing the public interest as opposed to a development interest. I would contend both interest can and should be enhanced in this type of approval.

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