There has been very little in the way of media coverage, but quietly and steadily the forces that want to demolish the Hotel Pennsylvania, site of the HOPE conferences, have been working to get their way and sidestep all of the opposition.
Meetings and hearings on the matter have been scheduled with very little notice and at the most inconvenient times imaginable. In an extremely troubling move, the Manhattan Borough President gave his "conditional approval" for the demolition of the hotel. A sparsely attended meeting last Wednesday at 10 in the morning of the New York City Planning Commission focused primarily on the popular idea of reopening a pedestrian tunnel and obscured the fact that the demolition of the Hotel Pennsylvania was also a part of this plan, all of which led to the conclusion that "no one spoke in opposition."
In addition to the hotel being our home for the conferences since the first one back in 1994, it's also one of the only affordable hotels for out-of-towners located in a convenient spot, directly across the street from Pennsylvania Station, the country's largest train station. Replacing it with a huge office tower would remove a valuable resource and would also be a slap in the face to the significant history surrounding the hotel.
There has been difficulty mounting a successful campaign to oppose this ill-advised move. For many in New York City, the hotel is just another old building from 100 years ago. Obviously, residents of New York don't really make use of hotels in their own city. The people hurt most by this would be those coming from different parts of the country and the world. This is a significant number, as the hotel's 1700 rooms are sold out night after night. Clearly, the people who depend on the hotel aren't able to make it to these little known meetings. Even those of us in New York can't take a full day off of work or school to attend on those rare occasions where meetings are adequately publicized.
Now that the threat has been clearly identified, we have no choice but to take action. To not do so will ensure that our next conference will indeed be our last, as there is no affordable space in New York with adequate facilities for a gathering of that size. In order to pull this off, we will need lots of help. This includes volunteers to contact the media, run websites, do research, organize leafleting campaigns and demonstrations, and basically get the word out so that this really bad idea is stopped before it's too late.
We need to add a lot of energy to the ongoing conversation on our online forum in order to be able to organize and strategize. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're able to lend a hand or can feed us with any information.
We advise people to read through the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to see what's planned by Vornado.
Finally, please follow savehotelpenn on Twitter. Having a large number of people showing up as followers to this Twitter account will demonstrate the fact that people really do care.