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Hostels could flourish in NYC if City Council takes action | NY Daily News

Jerry Kremer’s interview with the Daily News about his mission to bring hostels to New York on behalf of the industry.

Inexpensive lodgings could draw young travelers to Long Island City, Harlem, Williamsburg and Greenpoint if City Council acts on a new bill legalizing for-profit hostels

By NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The New York Loft Hostel featured co-ed guest rooms and had just opened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when this photo was taken in July 2008. A new bill being introduced in City Council would allow the low-cost lodgings to flourish in the trendiest neighborhoods and attract a whole new crop of under-30-something tourists.

Young tourists who have been priced out of Manhattan may soon be able to visit the city without going into the red.

Advocates for hostels are pushing the City Council to pass a law that would allow the low-cost lodgings to once again flourish in the city.

Hostels, which typically house the under-30 set in rooms sleeping up to eight travelers, would serve tourists who can’t afford rooms in midtown Manhattan.

Potential operators are already eying locations in trendy districts including Long Island City, Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Harlem, hostel backers said. The areas are close to Manhattan — without the high price tags.

“These are parts of the city that right now are very ripe for these kinds of

Jerry Kremer at a hostel in Barcelona, Spain

Jerry Kremer at a hostel in Barcelona, Spain

changes,” said Jerry Kremer, a former Assemblyman-turned-lobbyist who represents the booking company Hostelworld.com.

“Youth travel is a really hot market today,” he said. “There are so many buildings that could potentially be converted into hostels.”

Guest smokes on the front porch of the Jazz on the Villa hostel in Harlem in this photo dated March 24, 2009. Hostels were thriving across the boroughs until the city began cracking down on illegal hotels and SROs, starting in 2010.

Dozens of for-profit hostels were forced to close in the last few years, since the city began cracking down on illegal hotels including Single Room Occupancies. Only a smattering of hostels survived.

Kremer is pushing the city to hold a public hearing on the bill — the first step in legalizing rooms that can house more than four unrelated travelers, though it’s unclear when that could happen.

Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have said they support legalizing for-profit hostels — and the roughly 1,000 new jobs the facilities are expected to create.

“We have a lot of young people coming to the city from Europe on vacation and they’re used to [hostels],” said City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), one of the bill’s sponsors. “Young people who want to come to the city and explore need to have some less expensive options.”

The return of hostels could draw about 175,000 new tourists to the city a year, according to estimates from officials from the city’s tourism arm NYC & Company, which projects that those visitors would spend more than $116 million during their stays.

Hostels “will be especially beneficial to non-traditional tourism areas outside Manhattan,” said Kimberly Spell, a spokeswoman for NYC & Company. “These new visitors will help drive much-needed spending and economic activity at local restaurants, retailers and cultural institutions.”

Former New York state Assemblyman Arthur (Jerry) Kremer, counsel to the Bus Association of New York, is pushing the city to hold a public hearing on the bill — the first step in legalizing rooms that can house more than four unrelated travelers.

The average hotel room in Manhattan costs about $286 a night, tourism officials said. But a bunk bed in a shared room in a hostel can go for as little as $19.95.

Sunlite Capital Management is one of the operators hoping the city will make a move. The investment management firm is looking at opening a hostel in Long Island City. Company principal Andrew Nimmer has spoken publicly about his plans, but he refused to discuss them with the Daily News.

Local business and tourism leaders said the hostel would be good for local merchants.

“There are lots of people around the world that use hostels as a cost-efficient way of traveling,” said Dan Miner, senior vice president of the Long Island City Partnership, a business advocacy group. “Let’s welcome them.”

Leaders in Harlem said international travelers — and their wallets — would be a boon to the neighborhood.

“It brings business opportunities,” said Bonita LloydNettles, executive director of the Harlem Renaissance Economic Development Corp. “They’re going to come here and spend money.”

Read more: Hostels could flourish again in NYC if City Council takes action on proposed law change – NY Daily News.