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Big-brand hotel owners back mayor's special permit plan

Three of the city's biggest hotel operators say they'll rest easier if the city severely restricts the construction of competing accommodations.

Highgate Hotels President Mahmood Khimji, BD Hotels' owner Richard Born and Fitzpatrick Hotel Group CEO John Fitzpatrick gave statements to Crain's on Wednesday, calling for the City Council to pass Mayor Bill de Blasio's contentious proposed permitting procedure for new hotels. Crain's reported in August that the Department of City Planning is drawing up a new system that would end as-of-right hotel development—forcing every would-be builder to obtain a special permit from the city, a process that would effectively grant the local City Council member veto power over any new hotel room.

The established hoteliers pointed to a recent surge in hotel development, as well as to data showing a drop-off in room rates and revenues.

That, they argued, could have fiscal consequences for the city, which extracts heavy taxes from the industry.

"We know a storm is coming," he said. "That’s why having special permits in place now is important to forestall the inevitable service cuts and job losses that will result if we don't act.”


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