Volume 74, Number 31 | December 08 - 14, 2004

Chelsea club’s name changes, but problems don’t

By Albert Amateau

After doing business as Mumbai for two troublesome years, the club at 250 W. 26th St. changed its name to The City two weeks ago and was granted a renewal of its liquor license last week, but nearby residents are still saying the club is a bad neighbor.

At the Dec. 1 Community Board 4 meeting, residents of 236 W. 26 St. told the board that noise, garbage in the street and rowdy patrons are making life on the block between Seventh and Eighth Aves. impossible.

“Since its opening, Mumbai has wreaked havoc on its neighbors and its neighborhood,” said the board resolution sent to the State Liquor Authority urging the S.L.A. not only to deny a license renewal but to revoke the license.

The resolution, however, came too late, because the S.L.A. had already renewed the license that expired Nov. 31. In any case, community board recommendations are strictly advisory.

Brahm Prasad, owner of the club, insisted last week that except for a few days in the beginning of 2003, Mumbai, now known as The City, has done everything right and the complaints are coming from a handful of residents who do not want even the best behaved of clubs on their block.

“We hired extra security to take care of problems in the street. I hired my own sound engineer to take readings in people’s apartments. The noise from their own boiler was the only thing they found,” he said. “I’m there every night, me or my partner [Kevin Rivera] to see that everything is under control.”

But according to neighbors and the community board, there is no control at all. “We’ve been dealing with fights, garbage and noise,” said Beth Ball, a resident of 236 W. 26th St. “The noise was so loud last Saturday that it woke me up. It’s usually Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays,” she said.

Raymond Dillulio, another resident of 236 W. 26th St., said the club has been a problem for more than two years. “The noise level is a major issue,” he said. “I live on the second floor and the noise is mind-boggling. The crowds hassle my young teenage daughter,” he went on.

Neighbors and the community board say there is evidence of underage drinking. “Kids from the U.N. School were in the street drinking in front of the club,” Ball said. The community board letter to the S.L.A. said that on Nov. 18 Mumbai held a “College Party” event when patrons clearly under the legal drinking age were seen entering and leaving the premises.

Prasad, however, said that 18-year-olds are allowed by law to enter the club but may not be sold alcoholic beverages. “I have 18-21 parties a couple of times a year — graduations, spring breaks, special events. Every club in the area does it. We don’t have any underage drinking violations,” he said.

On Nov. 9, Prasad and his attorney, Norman Siegel, appeared at a Businesses and Licenses Committee meeting of Community Board 4 and agreed to stipulations to Prasad’s application for a liquor license renewal. Prasad agreed to hire a qualified certified sound engineer to address “repeated complaints by neighbors in adjoining buildings.” He also agreed that his security firm would “increase its efforts to manage rowdy and unruly crowds of patrons who congregate in front of the establishment and adjacent buildings.”

Although the agreement included the observation, “The management of Mumbai has been less than the ideal neighbor and has a track record of police complaints and citations to prove that,” the committee recommended a liquor license renewal.

However, at the Dec. 1 full board meeting, neighbors convinced the board to call for a license revocation. “Members said we were demented to recommend a renewal,” said John Weis, co-chairperson of the committee. He went on to explain that the committee was not aware that conditions had improved on the block at all during the weeks following the Nov. 9 agreement.

In May, City Councilmember Christine Quinn testified before the S.L.A. regarding Mumbai’s license application. She cited loud music emanating from the club, fights spilling out onto the sidewalk, patrons using drugs in front of adjacent buildings, vomiting and urinating on the sidewalk and cars double-parked in front of the club.

Neighbors said last week that conditions have not changed. Prasad, however, insisted the club is the target of unfair criticism.

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