Three managers of the trendy Thompson LES Hotel on Allen Street got an earful from some of their neighbors last night. They were on hand, along with a lieutenant from the NYPD and representatives of Community Board 3 at a meeting to discuss concerns about late night noise, traffic congestion and unruly crowds on the streets around the hotel.
About 15 residents of the apartment buildings surrounding the hotel did not mince words. They said the noise wafting from the third floor, home of the newly opened outdoor swimming pool, and a second floor tented balcony makes it nearly impossible to sleep. Calling the hotel a “bad neighbor,” they painted an ugly picture of what’s happening, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
- “Blocks and blocks” of black SUV’s idling on Orchard behind the hotel, transforming the street into a “landing pad for celebrity” guests and the paparazzi covering them. One man called the hotel’s management of the situation “not respectful of the neighborhood.”
- The sidewalks are so crowded with hotel guests that it’s impossible to walk on Orchard Street in the evenings.
- A resident used words like “outrageous”, “brazen” and “a joke” to describe the noise emanating from the first party held around the swimming pool.
- Emily Armstrong, one of the residents who organized the meeting, said the hotel is clearly violating New York City’s noise ordinance. “If you can’t hear your tv set you know it’s against the law,” she exclaimed.
- Another resident said playing loud music in an open-air tent is “absurd.” He added, “No one could think you could do that. Thats illegal. It’s rude and it’s not working.”
- One man, after noting he was happy that an upscale hotel had move to the neighborhood, complained that drunk guests (apparently attending private events at the hotel) stumble out on to Orchard and that doormen in “black turtlenecks” are arrogant, telling him to get off the street.
Thompson LES General Manager Elizabeth Mao said she wants to be responsive to the concerns and she pledged to work towards a solution. Mao told the residents that, as manager of 60 Thompson, the Thompson LES’s sister hotel in Soho, she dealt with similar complaints from neighbors. But Mao said, after working with the community, the problems were solved.
Alexandra Militano, chair of the community board committee that evaluates liquor licenses, was puzzled by the apparent proliferation of open air bars at the hotel. She said, when the hotel’s application was reviewed, there was no request for a bar on the third floor or a tented space on the second floor. When pressed on the issue, Mao said, “I’m not the architect. My role is to manage the hotel,” she said. But she agreed to find out what licenses the hotel actually obtained. Separately, CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer said the Department of Buildings will be inspecting the hotel to determine if any of its regulations is being violated.
Mao conceded there had been problems with the bar staff. She said they had been fired and a new team brought in. The hotel will conduct sound testing in selected apartments to evaluate the noise and consider adding insulation. One of the hotel’s representatives said “we’re learning at your expense and we apologize for that.” A resident then asked him whether the hotel would be a good neighbor. His response: “we will make the attempt.”
Stetzer said it’s important that residents call the city’s 311 complaint line when they hear noise. Otherwise, she said, there’s no official record that can be used to confront a restaurant, bar or hotel. Those 311 complaints are also forwarded to the 7th Precinct.
The hotel management and the residents agreed to hold another meeting July 9th.