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For The Birds: Prolific Hotelier Retiring To Spend More Time Racing Pigeons

McSam Hotel Group's property at 585 Eighth Ave.

Sam Chang, a pioneer developer of budget hotels in the city, says he is calling it quits.

The head of McSam Hotel Group told the Wall Street Journal that while he still has 11 projects in the works in New York, he is planning to cut his workweek from 60 hours down to 20 as of next year and officially retire from the life of full-time hotelier.

Chang pointed to a new zoning law that restricts hotel development in manufacturing zones as the main reason for winding down his operations.

“They are pretty much putting me out of business,” Chang said of the politicians behind the new laws. “That rezoning put me in my retirement.”

Chang plans to sell more than 20 hotels he still owns in the city as well. After he is  finished, he plans to devote more time to pigeon racing, which he has pursued since his childhood in Taiwan, he told the Journal.

Chang came to the United States as a 17-year-old with his mother and siblings, and between 1979 and 1983 he bought and sold restaurants before moving into the hotel industry. He told the Journal he has opened at least 70 hotels in the past 20 years.

He has sold 34 hotels, which is more than any other business since Real Capital Analytics began tracking transactions in 2001. Last month, he told Commercial Observer that he is planning his most expensive hotel yet, and that he was close to reaching an arrangement with Le Méridien for his property at 292 Fifth Ave. in Koreatown.

“It’s always been my dream to own a hotel on Fifth Avenue,” Chang told the Journal.