As hotels gravitate to über-trendy areas like Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Long Island City, they're pushing out small businesses that have made those industrial neighborhoods their home for decades. Companies are facing outright displacement or tripled real estate prices, the unwelcome consequences of the ongoing hotel boom. Those businesses that have not been forced out yet fear a move to Long Island or New Jersey is inevitable.
Since 2007, at least 11 hotels have opened in industrial business zones, and another 16 are on the way, according to a recent Pratt Center for Community Development study funded in part by the New York Hotel and Motel Trade Council. IBZs were established by the Bloomberg administration to "protect existing manufacturing districts and encourage industrial growth citywide."
Similarly, in older M1 zones—areas for light manufacturing—at least 115 hotels are up and running, and 75 more are in the pipeline. There are 24 hotels in Long Island City alone. Whatever the zoning laws were once meant to accomplish, they've long since stopped being useful.
There are still 2,100 manufacturing firms in Long Island City, and many of them employ neighborhood residents. The area cannot afford to let them all go. "We need thoughtful development planning around how to make sure, for the sake of the long-term viability of the city, that we have spaces for these uses," said Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership.