A trio of hotel projects caused a stir last night at a Brooklyn Community Board 1 meeting, with neighbors voicing concerns about noise and traffic, and accusing the hotel operators of pulling switcheroos.
Just when the warm(ish) weather is starting to make thoughts of sunbathing and drinks by the pool seem slightly less ludicrous, McCarren Hotel and Pool, owned by parent company Chelsea Hotels, faced complaints of loud music and noisy patrons keeping neighbors up into the early morning hours.
One neighbor who lives on the corner of Berry Street and North 11th Street says it’s mainly the music that bothers him and his wife, inspiring them to start a petition against the renewal of the hotel’s liquor license, signed by 15 people who live nearby. “They have amplified music in on their pool level, and with all those hard stone surfaces it echoes everywhere,” he told the Community Board’s SLA Committee at last month’s meeting. “They have music on their rooftop where they literally have dance parties with DJs and the base pumping until 2 a.m.”
At that same meeting, committee member Thomas Burrows said that when the hotel was Hotel Williamsburg, and later King & Grove Williamsburg, the owners tended to follow the rules that were set when the building got its liquor license. “We had all kind of stipulations with them,” he said. He accused the current ownership, the parent company of which is Chelsea Hotels, of disregarding restrictions regarding hours of operation and public access to the pool deck. “They charge admission, so it’s like a bar with a pool,” he said.
As a result, the community board followed the SLA committee’s recommendation not to lend support to the renewal of the hotel’s liquor license. But it may be too little, too late: according to the SLA’s website, the hotel was granted a license this month and it doesn’t expire until 2017. A Chelsea Hotels spokesperson confirmed that the license had already been renewed and said, “We have not been contacted by the community board about such concerns but will reach out to address them. We are conscious of our neighbors, many of whom are frequent visitors of the hotel, and are committed to maintaining a good relationship with them.”
In other hotel news, the futuristic looking Level Hotel, currently under construction and slated to open by the end of this year, will have to continue to wait for its liquor license. At its meeting last month, the SLA Committee decided the project was too large in scope to be considered by just the committee and told the hotel it would need to make a presentation in front of the full board. At the full board meeting last night, it was decided that the best course of action for the hotel was to ask for a postponement. It remains to be determined whether the committee will hold a separate public hearing regarding just the hotel or the full board will put it on the agenda for its next meeting.
Yet another hotel came up in discussion last night when members of the public took the opportunity to speak about the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building at 175 Broadway between Driggs Avenue and Bedford Avenue, another venue seeking a liquor license. There was talk of how traffic and parking issues might be compounded by the hotel that developer Juan Figueroa is building on an adjacent site.
The huge former bank, also owned by Figueroa, underwent extensive renovations and has hosted roughly 30 large events over the past year using caterers who have their own liquor licenses. Now the venue is seeking a liquor license, but members of the public voiced their disapproval at the SLA meeting that occurred yesterday morning. Burrows stated that the committee had declined to support a license for the venue two separate times, and complained that the application that went before the SLA Tuesday asked for a license to accommodate 1,000 patrons, almost twice the number listed on the last application that went before the community board.
“1,000 people is the max occupancy that we would like to accommodate on the rare occasion when we set it up in a different manner, for instance cocktails where it’s all standing. It does not happen often,” a spokesperson for the venue assured, adding that they would need to acquire a temporary permit every time they have an event that goes over the 567 patrons approved by their certificate of occupancy.
Several members of the public pleaded with the SLA to consider the amount of traffic 1,000-person events would generate coming off the Williamsburg Bridge. “It took me 25 minutes to get off the bridge the other night on a Wednesday night,” said local Trev Huxley. That night the venue was hosting the Brooklyn Public Library Gala. For now, the process is delayed another month; Williamsburg Savings Bank will have to go in front of the SLA again at their March 21 meeting because SLA members were not satisfied by traffic studies that accounted for only 300 cars coming into the area for any given event, and the SLA requested the owners meet with the Community Board’s SLA Committee to try to come up with an agreement.