At Liquor License Hearing, Ludlow Hotel Owners Promise to Be Good Neighbors

180 Ludlow Street.

The new, upscale hotel at 180 Ludlow Street is expected to open by next spring.  That was the word from the hotel owners, who went before Community Board 3’s SLA Committee earlier this week, winning the panel’s blessing for a liquor license.  The long-suffering development site was bought by BD Hotels two years ago for $25 million.  The high flying group, led by Richard Born and Ian Druckier, offered a few new details about the project, which is destined to be a Lower East Side game changer.

The 20-story hotel will include an Italian restaurant not unlike Gemma, the trattoria in the Bowery Hotel (one of this group’s many Manhattan holdings), a small patio on the Orchard Street side of the building and a lobby lounge.  Food service will be available 24 hours; liquor will be served until 4 a.m.  They submitted a letter of support from their neighbor, The Ludlow apartment building, as well as petitions from local residents containing 150 signatures.

Some committee members were uneasy about the proposal, even though there is no doubt the State Liquor Authority will okay the application.  Ludlow Street is already congested and full of nighttime revelers.  They wanted to make sure there’s a good traffic management plan in place.

Richard Born assured the community board that they would not risk their 25-hotel empire (which includes 15 liquor licenses) by having an “unruly scene” unfold in front of the new Lower East Side property, which he said represents a $65 million investment.  Born argued that crowds are very orderly outside the Bowery Hotel, even though there’s a 6,000 square foot events space on the second floor (there will be no large events space on Ludlow Street).   He added that the goal is always to make sure that the group’s hotels “fit into their neighborhoods” and become places for locals to “meet and greet” one another. Born said they plan to ask the city for a 75-foot loading area on Ludlow.

Noting that 180 Ludlow had been a stalled construction site for several years, Born argued that there is a “public interest” in approving the liquor permit.  He also indicated the hotel would try to hire local residents, most likely working with the Lower East Side Employment Network to identify applicants.  Later, CB3’s Susan Stetzer told us the hotel is already working with the network.

Committee members brought up last month’s controversy surrounding the renewal of the liquor license at the Hotel on Rivington. How, they wanted to know, would BD Hotels deal with the sort of crowds that swarm around the entrance of that property?   Born essentially said he and Druckier were a lot more experienced, given their long track record in New York running multiple high-end hotels.

In spite of reservations from Alex Militano, the committee chair (who called Ludlow Street “beleaguered”) the committee approved the application. The full board will vote next week before sending a recommendation on to the SLA.