Neighbors fight the cocktail lounge coming to 293 Church


A neighbor of the cocktail lounge proposed for 293 Church — L’Entree — has filed a legal action in Supreme Court seeking a court order to enjoin the company from operating in the space to both block their current proposal for a bar and also in reaction to the many sleepless nights they have suffered over the past months that it has been run as a private event space.

Steven Rand and Nancy Wender, who live next door — he is also the executive director of the non-profit art gallery Apexart at 291 Church — are the plaintiffs in the complaint and also organized several other neighbors to attend the meeting of the Licensing and Permits Committee of CB1 last week. The applicant was also there, explaining his business plan, and after that things got ugly. It was one of the more unpleasant meetings I have witnessed, with a lot of accusations of deceit on both sides, some of which got personal.

Ultimately the committee decided to table the application, with chair Susan Cole saying, “I am loathe to grant him a license because he has not proved to be a good neighbor. He had the chance to rent it out and do the right thing and he didn’t.” CB1 suggested he try to rent the space and this time keep it mellower but neighbors felt the opposite: that he should not be allowed to rent it at all. Either way, he will return in December to the committee — “If he can’t prove himself, then it’s all written,” Susan said.

You can read some of the backstory on the post I already did on the business — before I understood the conflict. (I *did* know there was a private party space behind there, but could never confirm it.) Since July 1, 2021, when the folks behind L’Entree signed their new lease, they have rented the space out 27 times, according to the owners. Seven of those were for daytime film rentals with crews of less than 10 people. It’s those other 22 events that neighbors said have kept them up till 3a with extremely loud music that shook the walls as well as strobe lights that came through the skylight in the back and over-capacity attendance. (The c. of o. allows for 68.)

Rand hired a former cop — he was at the meeting on WebEx too — who surveilled the property on Halloween and counted 123 people going inside, as well as one woman who stumbled out at 3:14a. “Make no mistake, this venue is a party scene,” said Rand. “They have one bathroom [for patrons — there’s another downstairs for staff] and I have photos of urine and vomit on my doorway. This is not a place for neighborhood patrons to relax.”

The ugly part came when Rand and his lawyer accused owner Zak Normandin of lying about where he lives — not above the store, as he has said, but in Brooklyn — and asking him to produce his three children. Rand has cameras on the front of his space which, he says, have never caught Normandin coming in or out in the mornings or evenings as a resident might. (Thankfully CB1 members nipped that one in the bud.) (Rand’s lawyer also said the upstairs units on 3, 4 and 5 were illegal Airbnbs — he has several pictures of people coming in and out with luggage — but the owner of the building sent a note to Rand explaining that they are short-term rentals within the law with an average stay of three months, and that’s for a different story…)

There was also some back-and-forth on the soundproofing that was required and whether any of it was in fact being done. And neighbors are worried that Normandin’s partner’s other business are also clubs — he has the cocktail bar in the Chelsea Market called The Tippler; Chelsea Music Hall, which has live music and comedy; and the now closed Hell’s Kitchen TexMex restaurant called El Original.

SO IN CONCLUSION, it’s my guess that the State Liquor Authority’s 500 Foot Law is likely to get in the way of plans for this space. Once Normandin and his partners file an application (they have promised not to do so until after the CB1 Licensing Committee’s meeting in December) it will trigger a 500 Foot Hearing — a process for any establishment looking to open where there are already three or more licensees within 500 feet. (This is obvious at this location what with The Roxy, Petrarca, Anejo and Belle Reve.)

If there is community opposition, the application will go in front of the SLA full board, which meets every two weeks to hear these cases. The applicant has to prove the establishment is in the community interest, which will be hard to do if neighbors say otherwise.

One of the final words went to the lawyer, who warned of what I will call the “bridge and tunnel” crowd coming to Tribeca. “The uniqueness of this neighborhood is losing way to a place for people from other boroughs to party till the wee hours. We are talking about substantially changing the character of this neighborhood.”

 

9 Comments

  1. Oh my. I am not sure what to say. Quite dramatic and sad turn of events.

  2. This is New York City. If you don’t want noise and vomit on your front stoop moved to a glass tower somewhere else

  3. This is New York City. And because we literally live on top of one another everyone has to be careful about the noise they make and where they vomit.

    Those on isolated farms (I’m thinking) are the ones that can live unburdened by noise and vomit concerns.

  4. I will never tire of the rich’s non-problems. If you want quiet nights, get out of Manhattan. Insanity.

  5. I want to be clear to anyone following this story that we are committed to doing everything in our power to make sure this business is not a disturbance to the neighborhood. We are currently sound-proofing all windows and will address any other concerns if/when they are presented. We have been renting the space legally since July for private birthdays, engagement parties, and baby showers so that we can pay the rent while we wait for permitting from the NY State Liquor Authority to open the business to the public. This is not our business model, it’s simply a means to an end.

    But also, it has been a good process for us to go through so we can better understand the structural limitations of the building and the areas we need to invest in to prevent noise leakage and other potential disturbances on the block.

    I love Tribeca (and, do indeed have children/live in the building) — My hope is that we will have the opportunity to prove that what we have built is a benefit to the neighborhood, not a nuisance. If anyone has questions or would like to discuss, my email is zak@irisnova.com

  6. Rich people with too much time/money. Sorry for the owners. Love the tippler. Would love something like that in Tribeca.

  7. We will fight this bar with all of our resources. This is horrible for our neighborhood. The owner has proven that he is incapable of understanding Tribeca and running a place that fits here.

    • Hi Jill,

      I’m truly sorry you feel this way as clearly we have been misunderstood and misrepresented throughout this process. Opening a new business should not be viewed as a negative — It brings jobs and tax dollars to the area which has always been in the spirit of Manhattan and is our ultimate aim. Although you’re entitled to your opinion, we are doing nothing illegal and we have expressed both verbally and through our actions that we are fully committed to resolving your concerns in the best interest of the neighborhood. I would welcome a direct conversation as we feel strongly that there is a path to resolution here that does not involve a contentious legal battle or public disparagement. If you would like to discuss, please email me directly and I will make the time.

      Zak
      zak@irisnova.com

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