Volume 77, Number 3 - January 2 - 8, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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E. Fifth neighbors want even tighter lid on hotel

By Albert Amateau

Members of the E. Fifth St. Block Association are fighting the Cooper Square Hotel’s application for a liquor license for a second-floor outdoor terrace that extends a scant 30 inches from the window of an apartment in a tenement next door.

Carrie Schneider, whose apartment at 207 E. Fifth St. is right across from the terrace, said this week that she was disappointed in the conditions that Community Board 3 won from the developer, the Peck Moss Hotel Group, in return for a favorable recommendation by the board to the State Liquor Authority.

“I’m going to the S.L.A. 500-foot hearing to ask that no liquor license be granted for the terrace until and unless the area is enclosed,” said Schneider, a member of the E. Fifth St. Block Association, which has been trying to deal with a total of three liquor license applications for the 21-story hotel still under construction at 25-33 Cooper Square.

The S.L.A. routinely conducts hearings on applications for licenses within 500 feet of three existing licensed premises. Although a hotel seeking multiple licenses for bars or restaurants on different floors is counted as only one liquor license for the purposes of the 500-foot rule, the hotel is within 500 feet of 19 bars in the area, according to David Mulkins, a resident of 201 W. Fifth St., and a member of a block task force dealing with the hotel.

The next S.L.A. 500-foot hearing will be Jan. 8, beginning at 11 a.m. at the agency office, 317 Lennox Ave. at 126th St., and block association task force members, including Schneider, Mulkins and Stuart Zamsky, have promised to be there.

Regarding the liquor license for the second-floor outdoor terrace with a capacity for 77 patrons with three tables and 32 seats, Community Board 3 convinced the hotel to restrict the hours of operation to between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. seven days a week — as opposed to originally proposed closings of 9 p.m. Sundays to Wednesdays, 10 p.m. Thursdays and 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

To shield the six-story building at 207 E. Fifth St. where Schneider’s window is less than a yard away, the hotel intends to erect a 42-inch-tall sound-baffling wall topped by potted plants around the terrace. The hotel will also put an awning over the terrace during all hours of operation.

In addition, smoking would be prohibited on the terrace where it abuts the neighboring building and lighting at night would be by candles rather than electrical lighting. The hotel has also indicated it would apply to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a zoning variance to enclose and soundproof the terrace, and Community Board 3 pledged to support the B.S.A. application.

But Schneider said this week that the license should be denied until the terrace is enclosed. She said that even before the building is complete and despite the background of construction noise, she can clearly hear the conversation of workers on the terrace. She said the intrusion would be unimaginable with 77 patrons served by waiters and busboys rushing around.

The community board has been especially concerned about the impact of the hotel on the 140-unit JASA Green assisted-living home for elderly and disabled residents at 200 E. Fifth St. across from the hotel. The board won the hotel’s agreement to put its primary entrance on Cooper Square with all service deliveries and pickups on Cooper Square, rather than Fifth St. The hotel has also agreed not to apply for a sidewalk cafe permit for E. Fifth St. and to make efforts to prevent patrons from congregating on E. Fifth St.

Because the hotel’s first-floor garden terrace with a capacity for 66 patrons is directly across from the JASA residence, the terrace will close no later than 9 p.m. every night. The originally proposed closing was 10 p.m. Sundays to Wednesdays and 11 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays. Under the agreement with the community board, the terrace will open no earlier than 8 a.m. and will serve food during all operating hours.

Zamsky said that he was also concerned about two proposed doors on E. Fifth St., one at the hotel’s easternmost end near 207 E. Fifth St. for emergency exit only and the other to the west closer to Cooper Square.

“We got the hotel to agree that the western door would be a keycard entrance only for registered hotel guests; but I’m worried that it could become the hotel’s main entrance if there’s a celebrity event and they close the Cooper Square entrance for the event. I’m afraid E. Fifth St. would become a zoo,” Zamsky said.

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