Don’t Trump Soho, condo-hotel protesters beg city


By Lincoln Anderson

Chanting “Trump’s gotta go!” 150 hearty Soho and Hudson Square residents braved the cold and wind last Sunday to raise their voices against Donald Trump’s Soho Condo-Hotel.

They sang “Stop the Trump” to the tune of taps. They blew “Trump whistles.”

And they only hoped that City Hall heard them.

They gathered at the corner of Spring and Varick Sts., where Trump and his development partners, Bayrock and Sapir, are trying to build a 45-story condominium hotel the opponents say would flagrantly violate zoning. Yet, so far, the city hasn’t indicated it will deny the project a building permit.

“No skyscrapers in Soho” read one sign held aloft.

“A 45-story target? Hell no!” read another sign a woman had taped to a broom’s bristles and hoisted overhead, obviously reflecting the feeling that a glittering luxury edifice by America’s most famous developer would be a virtual magnet for a terrorist attack.

The project is in a manufacturing-zoned district — yet ads for it keep saying the units are for residential use. After the developers called earlier ads a mistake that they wouldn’t repeat, just two weeks ago an ad for the condo-hotel in New York magazine pitched it as a great residential opportunity.

“This is a knife into the heart of this area,” Assemblymember Deborah Glick told the crowd. “It’s illegal, inappropriate development and cannot be allowed. This is a trial balloon,” she warned. “Other places will be destroyed if Trump succeeds here.”

While hotels are allowed in manufacturing-zoned districts, the project’s critics say it will function essentially as a residential building, setting a precedent for similar projects elsewhere, leading to the weakening of the city’s other manufacturing districts.

“What Donald Trump and his partners want to do here violates the law,” said Queens Councilmember Tony Avella, chairperson of the City Council’s Zoning Committee. “But the city is playing along with it and saying, ‘Maybe we’ll work out a restrictive declaration.’

“If you allow this to happen,” Avella said, “you will give carte blanche to every developer in this city to ruin the manufacturing districts.” Avella’s northeast Queens neighborhood includes manufacturing zones he says would be threatened if condo-hotels could make inroads there.

David Reck, president of the Friends of Hudson Square, said that the community finally was able to get an appropriate rezoning of Hudson Square a few years ago, but that Trump’s project “has totally stood zoning on its ear.”

“He cannot build under the existing zoning,” stressed Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “How many chances are they going to get?” Berman asked of the ads. “Trump’s been advertising it from the start as residences.”

“Jail him!” someone in the crowd shouted.

“Get Rosie O’Donnell out there!” somebody else chimed in.

Speakers said local manufacturing and commercial uses ringing the site, like 1-800-Postcards, other printing and Internet companies, a furniture-manufacturing company and Manhattan Mini Storage, all would be threatened by the 45-story condo-hotel.

Speaking afterwards, Glick said, “If you eliminate the floor plates, the new media will have no place to go. The emerging media of photovoltaic and various types of digital production — that’s what would fit into these manufacturing zones.”

The Department of Buildings is negotiating a restrictive declaration with Trump and his partners, under which individuals’ stays at the hotel would be limited to a certain number of days per year. Under this agreement, Trump would contract with a group to monitor that the rules are followed. D.O.B. is waiting to finalize the agreement before it decides whether to issue a building permit. The project currently only has a permit to build the foundation.

Asked about the possibility of a lawsuit, Berman said that would happen if and when the permit is issued.

City Councilmember Chris Quinn, who represents Hudson Square, did not attend the protest because she was in Queens at the gay-inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Avella said he’d been to it many times but felt the anti-condo-hotel rally was more important. Glick said she never goes to the Queens parade, feeling it’s just a way to “get off the hook” for the larger parade’s not allowing gays to march under a banner.

Anthony Hogrebe, a Quinn spokesperson, said they are continuing to give input on the restrictive declaration and have a meeting scheduled with the developers this week to discuss the repeated problems with the ads that pitch the condo-hotel as residential.