Walker Street neighbors on M1-5: “It’s not normal”

So what’s worse: the unctuous bar owner who gives lip service to neighbors and then does what he wants anyway, or the guy that basically says screw you from the start?

The neighbors of M1-5 at 52 Walker certainly know now — after the CB1 Licensing and Permits Committee — exactly which one they are dealing with.

After complaining for years, residents along the stretch of Walker between Church and Broadway have rallied together to push CB1 and eventually the State Liquor Authority to revoke the bar’s license. They now have 68 signatures from residents of 12 buildings, all of whom have protested what they say is clearly a nightclub even though it doesn’t have a permit for dancing or live music or a DJ. Neighbors in 51 and 56 Walker all recounted tales of late night/early morning patrons fighting in the street, damage to their buildings, and most of all the pounding noise from the club’s music.

“It’s not normal,” said one resident who developed 56 Walker and who said he put in three layers of sound-proofing when he built the building — and it’s not working. “I’ve gone in there. The level of volume — it’s almost painful.”

After listening to several complaints, the owner shot back, completely unrepentant and unapologetic, or as one board member described, “arrogant”: “I am afforded rights by the EPA — if I am too loud, they can come give me a ticket and then shut me down. It’s not a discotheque, it’s not a dance club. It’s a tavern. I am not in your apartment. I don’t know what it sounds like.”

(An aside: While I kind of like the name, 52 Walker is actually in a C6-2A mixed use zoning district, and in the Tribeca East Historic District; the owners would have to cross Canal to find the closest M1-5 manufacturing zone if they want to properly represent.)

If neighbors accounts are correct, the bar is at the very least violating its hours of operation. One of the most recent complaints was chants of “fight, fight, fight” coming through to the backs of the buildings at 4:15a on the Monday morning of fashion week. And the residents of 56 Walker hired a top-notch acoustic consultant to measure the decibels in their building: on one Saturday night it was 250 percent above the legal limit. “They are operating an illegal club, and it’s not just a nightclub, it’s a dayclub, starting at 2 p.m. and going till 4 a.m.”

The owner said he has never been fined by the EPA even though they have been there to inspect — though the CB said the office FOIA-ed the police records for the club and discovered some arrests. So that leads me to believe there is some “arrangement” with the EPA, or they came on a Tuesday.

Moving forward, CB1 will start a dossier on the club and collect evidence of any kind, as well as a list of 311 reports. The whole package will then be turned over to the SLA urging them to revoke the license.


1 Comment

  1. This comment is from JAMES, not me, on the Noise Code:

    “[…] the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) share duties based on the type of noise complaint.

    “[…] Commercial establishments that play music must limit the level of unreasonable or disturbing noise that escapes into the streets or is heard in nearby residences by requiring that sounds levels may not exceed:
    • 42 decibels as measured from inside nearby residences, AND
    • 7 decibels over the ambient sound level, as measured on a street or public right-of-way 15 feet or more from the source, between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am
    • Bass sounds measurements are weighted in the “C” scale and may not exceed 6 dB(C) above the ambient sound if the ambient sound is greater than 62 dB(C).


    People should go online to 311 and complain and write down their complaint numbers and send them to CB1.


    “If residents have a chronic complaint about noise from bars or restaurants, they can request through 311 that DEP schedule an inspector to take decibel meter readings at their apartment. Fines from these DEP violations can be as much as $3,500. The second offense is $6,400, and the third offense is $9,600. This is much higher than the fines that may be issued by NYPD for unreasonable noise.”

    From: http://cbsix.org/resources/nyc-noise-code/

    And the 311 complaint link:

    “You can report noise, including loud music, coming from inside a club or bar.

    “If you include your name and address in your report, you will receive a City survey. When you return the survey reporting a chronic issue, City officials will schedule an appointment to take noise level readings in your home. The establishment you report will be fined when appropriate.

    “What Happens Next

    “Officers from the New York Police Department (NYPD) will respond within 8 hours when they are not handling emergencies. They will be able to take action if the noise is still happening when they arrive. If you make multiple complaints within 8 hours, police may only respond once.

    “If you file another complaint within six months of having previously completed a survey, which requested a DEP inspection, the City will automatically enter another request for an inspection on your behalf in the DEP complaint system.”