Last night about a dozen Soho residents, a number of hotel owners, the developer's executive, and seasoned liquor license lawyer Warren Pesetsky filed into SoHo Alliance director Sean Sweeney's palatial Greene Street loft to discuss the new 16-story, 114 room hotel development at the old Moondance Diner site, at Sixth Avenue and Grand Street. The developers are requesting at least three liquor licenses (for a ground floor bar, patio bar, and roof bar), and as usual, the neighbors aren't happy.
Pesetsky was friendly and deferential, but he laid out his main point early and didn't budge from it: "We all know the hotel is going to be built, we all know the hotel is going to get a liquor license." The point of the meeting, at least for Pesetsky, was to create an operating agreement so the hotel would have an easy passage through the community board. He explained the hotel had already agreed to ban amplified music in outdoor areas. Now all that was left was to discuss the little things: hours of operation for the outdoor bars, garbage pickup, and so on.
Much of the concern over the evening stemmed from the curious design of the hotel, which calls for an outdoor plaza approximately two floors up with the hotel resting atop it. Despite an eight-foot wall surrounding the space, the idea of an outdoor gathering spot was anathema to most of the SoHo alliance members. "I want to know if there's amplified music inside," one member said, "because sometimes you hear music from inside when doors open." It didn't help that various members of the SoHo Alliance had different, sometimes contradictory demands. Eventually Pesetsky offered a solution to the impasse. "I suggest that [the developers' reps] leave," he said, "and you form a consensus. Then present it to us as a smaller group. If it makes economic sense, we'll do what you say."
With the suits gone, the members decided upon the following demands:
· Enclose the roof wherever liquor is served
· Soundproof the west wall of 17 Thompson where it is adjacent to the plaza
· Garbage pickup and deliveries should be on sixth avenue
· Double doors on all restaurants for sound insulation
· Several people wanted new, soundproofed windows for their own nearby apartments
· Non-negotiable closing times: 11pm on weeknights, 12 am weekends, period.
We'll see what the developers think about these recommendations, but any decision to ignore them could be perilous. In an e-mail, Sweeney tells us that "the SoHo alliance has spent about a quarter of a million dollars over the years in court fighting liquor licenses, never lost, so that is why the developers come to us. That is why, I feel, SoHo has not become the scene like the MePa or LES or Bowery has."
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