Since spring, the mostly anonymous crew of Lower East Siders who make up the Dwellers have campaigned heavily against Soho House’s plan to occupy three stories and a rooftop bar at 139 Ludlow. In late May, Community Board 3 recommended that the State Liquor Authority deny a liquor license application, and now the club will plead its case to the SLA at a “500 foot” hearing on Thursday.
Diem Boyd, who founded the Dwellers last October in order to encourage residents to fight new nightlife via 311 and petitioning, will attend the hearing along with other opponents. “Soho House has always been prepared to head to the NY SLA, with or without Community Board 3 approval and community support,” she told Bedford + Bowery. “Soho House’s plan to open on the LES has always banked on the fact they have the deep pockets of billionaire , their political connections and lobbying efforts, and their legal resources.”
Per the “500 foot rule,” the club has to prove to the SLA that its new location will be a “public benefit” and should therefore be granted a full liquor license even though it’s within 500 feet of three or more licensed establishments.
Soho House’s meatpacking location caters to the rare birds who are in the “creative industries” but can still afford to shell out $1,800 in annual membership fees. Its LES location will be located smack in the middle of “Hell Square,” the swath of blocks from Houston to Delancey and Allen to Essex that is most saturated with nightlife.
The Dwellers e-mail campaign, which launched last night, cites the open rooftop bar, 250 + person occupancy, and closing times of 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. as detrimental to the community, and implores residents to sign a petition and send opposition letters to the SLA.
Some local organizations, most notably the LES BID, are in favor of Soho House’s expansion, but the Dwellers object that it blatantly ignores the will of the community board. “We are standing our ground, imploring our government agencies and elected officials to serve the people who they represent, and respect the vote recommendations of the city wide Community Boards, who exist to safeguard the community,” said Boyd.
The 500 foot meeting will take place at the SLA’s Harlem office this Thursday at 11 a.m.