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NO MORE NIGHTCLUB NIGHTMARES IN TRIBECA

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        We object to the application for a liquor license by Elmwood Ventures LLC (d/b/a Buddha Bar) at the proposed location of 62 Thomas Street (aka 137 Duane Street). 

         It’s hard to fathom why Buddha Bar would want to open in a location where two well-financed Asian restaurants—Obeca Li and Megu – previously failed.   Those failures attest to the risk of trying to lure customers to a 15,000-square foot space on a narrow side street with little foot-traffic.  Both of these restaurants started out with the noble goal of attracting clientele with their food. But when the number of customers declined, the desperate owners resorted to late-night entertainment – marketing themselves as “lounges” and collaborating with party promoters.  The owners and their patrons violated laws pertaining to hours of liquor service, noise, dancing, parking, and fuel emissions.   For 15 years, we, as neighbors, have endured throbbing bass vibrating through our walls and ceilings till the wee hours.  We’ve endured honking SUVs, limos and town cars clogging the 18.5-foot-wide street, parking in front of fire hydrants and on the north sidewalk, and running their engines for hours. We’ve endured drunken patrons loitering, smoking, shouting, fighting, breaking bottles, vomiting, and urinating in our doorways.  This din was amplified by the canyon-acoustics created by of the 20-story building across the street.  More than once, the staff of these restaurants brusquely insulted neighbors who dared to complain. (Please see coverage of Community Board 1 hearings re Obeca Li in November, 1998, and Megu in March, 2014.)

          As disruptive as these establishments were, Buddha Bar promises to be worse.  Obeca Li and Megu presented themselves, initially, as restaurants.   Buddha Bar also trumpets its cuisine, but it is internationally known as a nightclub franchise specializing in electronic dance music.  (iTunes features over 25 Buddha Bar albums.) Photos and videos posted by Buddha Bar patrons demonstrate not only live DJs but also live bands. (http://bit.ly/1MIk7OA)  The videos also document burlesque performances (http://bit.ly/1RSfQue), begging the question of whether a club that may feature topless dancing belongs across from the Buckle My Shoe pre-school.   Buddha Bar’s entertainment may vary from club to club, but media reports and customer reviews confirm that the previous New York branch, which opened in the Meatpacking District in 2006, was notorious for its crowds and noise. The New York Times referred to it as “the hyperactive restaurant slash nightclub that lorded over Little West 12th Street.”  Many diners who reviewed the disco online complained of music so loud they couldn’t talk. They also reported that, though there was no official “dance floor,” patrons danced.  Police incidents included the selling illegal parking spaces and battery.  When it closed, a New York magazine reviewer confessed to being “happy now that things seem to have become a bit more serene over on Little West 12th Street.”

           In 2004, after initially rejecting Buddha Bar’s liquor license application, Community Board 2 approved a revamped proposal partly on the grounds that “there is no residential occupancy in the immediate area surrounding this premise.”  That is plainly not the case in Tribeca. There are 12 residential buildings on Thomas Street alone – including the building in which Buddha Bar would reside.  Hundreds of people will be trying to sleep during Buddha Bar’s prime hours of operation. 

           Zoning regulations for this C6-2A district recognize that Use Group 12 entertainment facilities “generate considerable pedestrian, automotive or truck traffic; and are, therefore, appropriate only in secondary, major or central commercial areas.”  Obeca Li and Megu have painfully proven that this residential, two-car-wide street cannot accommodate “considerable pedestrian, automotive or truck traffic.” 

           We therefore respectfully ask Community Board 1 and the City Council to:    

            (1) establish whether current zoning law permits an entertainment venue of this size and activity at 62-66 Thomas Street and  

            (2) reject this liquor license application.   

            Residents are not opposed to restaurants – we live by and large harmoniously with ten of them within a block radius of Buddha Bar’s proposed location. But to sanction a mega-club is to ignore residents’ rights to peaceful quality of life.    

              Thank you for your consideration.

 



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