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Clayton Patterson Explains His Support For Soho House

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139 Ludlow Street, the possible future home of Soho House on the Lower East Side.
139 Ludlow Street, the possible future home of Soho House on the Lower East Side.

LES Dwellers, a neighborhood group, is stepping up its campaign against Soho House, which has been angling for a liquor license at 139 Ludlow St., the former Nieberg Funeral Home.  You can see their latest missive here (it touches on similar themes covered in an op/ed The Lo-Down published last week).  In a previous article, we mentioned that Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson had decided to support Soho House in its quest to open in this neighborhood.  Last night he sent us a more detailed explanation.  You can read it after the jump.

After much reflection, I am in favor of Soho House.

One commenter mentioned Marcia Lemmon.  Yes, Marcia Lemmon.  In 1998 Marcia,  Elsa Rensaa, and I got banned from attending the 7th Precinct Community Council for asking questions about all the crime connected to the new bars we were getting in the hood and for documenting the lack of response we were getting to our questions.  That is when Captain Cooper informed us we live in an “Entertainment Zone.”  What politicians sold us out to an Entertainment Zone? Where was “our” support in the struggle back then?

Funny, going further back, starting in 1988- and going strong till 1992- then off and on until around 1998- there was a powerful community push against gentrification.   However outside of the more radical section of the hood we had little support.   We were called the Rabble, Anarchists, anti-progressive.

The Democratic politicians were of no help, because they were too busy selling us out for their careers.  In fact, even recently you can see for yourself who is selling us out.   See Lo-Down: Lopez pushing to sell the land belonging to the Projects for luxury development.  In the Villager how Mendez supported Chin’s NYU expansion since Chin was her friend.  The only vote against Chin was Barron from Brooklyn- Mendez could have winked and nodded and voted against the expansion knowing full well the vote was already cooked.  See Mendez and Chin supporting Quinn.  Quinn =Bloomberg= Gentrification. Let’s talk politics as that is where the sell outs begin.

Other than a few comments, where is the support for Taylor Mead- see Villager and NY Sunday Post 03.24.13.

I have some understanding of the anti-gentrification struggle and the need to save our local history:  Resistance a Radical Political and Social History of the Lower East Side; Captured a film video history of the Lower EastSside; Jews; A People’s History of the Lower East Side (3 volumes),  coloring book Legends of the Lower east Side; Captured the movie directed Ben Solomon, Dan Levin ed. Jenner Furst, have a large photo/video + ephemera history of the LES.

So some of my questions related to Soho House.  If not them then who?  Soho House is not going to build up.  They are going to save the look and integrity of the façade architecture.  The fact that they are private keeps the crowds down, will be more low key… and so on.  Imagine this:  it is a large double wide lot- has at the very least 6 stories worth of air right to build up.  Imagine a brand new 12 story luxury hotel or apartment eating up the block.

If people want change, then they have to be willing to do what it takes to make change happen.  We must change our elected officials.  Few people will even do something as small as leave a comment to an article-  and that is not an exercise in hard work.  It is easy to bitch.  It is harder to do.  We still have choices- do something. And as far as most of the art related comments- I moved to this part of the LES to escape the early 1980’s Soho art world type of elitism.  Well that elitism is now here and I have to deal with it or leave.

In the end I will be unhappy if Soho House does not take over the property and we get some super-sized zone busting, shadow producing, luxury monstrosity that will be private just because of what it is. In the end I think we are lucky it is Soho House.  It is going to be something- be-careful what you wish for.


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  1. I am an artist in the near neighborhood, now across Houston on Ave A. What do they have to offer me? I am not of their percieved “ilk”. And yes Clayton, we know they’ve offered you a free membership.

  2. Our community has to stop allowing businesses to externalize their operating costs on us. The cost to the taxpayers of extra police patrols to control unruly crowds, and extra sanitation pick-ups are just the start. Money is lost by the daytime worker who is late for work because the noise kept her up all night, or the merchant that gets sanitation tickets for trash and bottles that bar-hoppers tossed, or the coop owner who has to invest in $900 sound-proof windows, or the couple who run expensive air conditioning when they don’t need it just to drown out the noise, or the student who does poorly in school or scores low on the SAT’s because of the ceaseless noise from the street that makes it impossible to study, or even the dog owner who has to pay a vet bill because the animal stepped on the broken glass that lines the street at 6AM. The earplugs and Ambien neighbors have to buy to sleep through the noise are also costs externalized on them by the owners of the noisy, out-of-control businesses.
    These establishments cost US, the community, money. They affect our family bottom-line in a time when money could not be tighter. And for many, many neighbors who are rent-stabilized, or live in public housing there is no possibility of moving.
    It’s time to begin seeing these irresponsible business owners for what they are, a bunch of moochers, stealing from our families.

  3. From your Villager bully pulpit, you scream out about the fallen (Pink Pony), the falling (El Sombrero), and the unfairly treated (E&S Wholesome Foods) at the hands of gentrification. You preach to us as if we are some apathetic congregation willing and accepting of our gentrified fate. You are so quick to remind us of all the battles you have fought and the bullets you have taken for the LES and all your heroic efforts (Taylor MEade). You hover above Loisaida self-anointed, more principled than the rest of us. The same righteousness abounds as you weigh in, in support of SoHo House.

    You tell us to be careful what we wish for? What about be careful of the wolf in sheep’s clothing? Your self promotion in this OpEd is as equally as offensive as the PR machinations of the Soho House. Did the lobbying firm Capalino. + Co. Soho House hired supply you with talking points – preservation of the facade, not going to build up, low key private club, etc.? Are you kidding me? Kudos to Soho House for not wanting to change the facade! But not enough of a reason to support it. As for building up 6 stories they simply can’t. New zoning laws – get the facts straight. Low key, yeah right. Please go visit the Meatpacking.

    You have been given a membership and a show. Great for you if this is your thing, but please tell the “creative locals” the truth. You must have 2 recommendations from existing members, supply a photo and pay $1800 or $2400 and afford the additional food and beverage cost…and private” club exists to keep the public out so there won’t be access or programs for children in the neighborhood, art studio for local artists, etc.

    Your personal gain is not the worth the rest of us. Enough is Enough – no more people dumped on our streets at night, no more noise, traffic, pollution. You can stay in your time capsule bubble and lament about all the things you tried to do but were thwarted by the “powers” that be, but don’t get in the way of those who are trying to do something in the NOW. Step aside please. There are those of us will not accept be given a false choice. We want a real choice.

  4. First of all I applaud Mr. patterson for supporting this place, we need change, all these dive bars are the problem here. If you live in this neighborhood then you could afford the $2400 a year membership. Im a supporter for a place like this in my neighborhood. Thank you Soho House for choosing my neighborhood.

  5. Hello Emily,

    When I had an estimate from City Silence for my sound proof windows the cost was $2850 per window….and I need six windows. So yes the cost that the community must cover for all these bars, liquor licenses, and clubs, whether public or private, is enormous.

  6. As someone who lives nearby,I am concerned about what Soho House has planned for their roof top.I read that they plan on making it a social space for members.I am concerned about a large number of people hanging out on the roof top late at night.This could potentially be a nightmare,as I remember rooftop parties on top of Inoteca on Rivington Street.

  7. I agree Emily.The external costs to those of us who are not in a position(financially speaking)to move can be very expensive.During the warmer months,I have to keep my air conditioning and fans on almost all the time to drown out the noise.This leads to very expensive electricity bills from May to early October.We have lived in a rent controlled apartment for over 30 years and are not in a position to move.

  8. Thank you Mr. patterson I couldn’t agree with you more, the changes we need is to get new elected officials in this neighborhood. Lets not forget our change of chair person and manager at the famous CB3. There the ones that started all this, and as for the few opposers of this place, go do your homework before you start yapping! This place is a plus for this neighborhood, its revenue that we need.

  9. living directly across the street from 139 ludlow, i am a future neighbor of whatever the lot becomes. my concerns are NOT about elitism or preserving any particular culture, but simply to prevent further erosion of the live-ability of my neighborhood. the situation in this location is already more insane with bars and out of town partying people than any other neighborhood in manhattan, and yet another liquor license and attendant drinkers will NOT improve that problem in any way. it will much more likely add to the mayhem, regardless of who the membership is composed of. if the future members of this proposed soho house location are not interested in participating in the general melee’ going on in this neighborhood nightly, than why is this location so important to them? there are many other so called ‘creative’ neighborhoods in manhattan for them to choose from that are not already over-saturated with bars and clubs. i agree with clayton that another hotel or luxury high rise is likely to be as obnoxious an addition to our already abused neighborhood as soho house would be. my question is, must this be an either/or choice between terrible and horrible? surely there must be an alternative that will not add yet another heaping serving of insult to a mountain of injury….

  10. Arundhati Roy
    …conglomerates have embraced the Arts—film, art
    installations and the rush of literary festivals… We’re under siege… what better way to parlay economic wealth into political, social and cultural capital, to turn money into power? … place their chessmen on the chessboard, through a system of elite clubs and think-tanks…

    Armed with their billions… turning potential revolutionaries
    into salaried activists, funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers, gently luring them away from radical confrontation…

    Pablo Neruda:

    Their obese emperors from New York

    are suave smiling assassins

    who buy silk, nylon, cigars

    petty tyrants and dictators.

  11. I trust Clayton’s opinion, sure it could always be something worse, still I wouldn’t call that support as much as recognition that it can always be worse

  12. Neighbors that moved here in the 70’s and 80’s are the people who started our community gardens, reformed the public schools, opened small businesses, demanded attention to our community from politicians, and basically stabilized the neighborhood. Their reward is the affordable apartments they either own or rent, that they plan to continue to live their lives in. Please stop telling your neighbors to “move out”. It’s unkind. We have to seek a balance, as neighbors, together.

  13. Mr. Patterson makes a very cogent point here. Soho House is nowhere near the worst that could happen to the area.

    But when LES Dwellers write “Rival gangs of frat boys, sororisluts, suburbanite wannabes, tramps with stamps, and bridge & tunnel douchebags…” do they really expect rational people to support them?

  14. This comment is from Clayton Patterson:

    Oh good you can hear me- nice to know. Sometimes it seems like no one is listening. And yes, my most recent Ludlow rants have been about the loss of the Pink Pony, the failing El Sombrero, the loss of E & S Wholesome Foods, at the hands of gentrification.
 On the same block can I add in Dare Devil Tattoo, the Tea Store- the pizza place? I hear it is possible that David, born, raised, lived his whole life on Ludlow may be having landlord problems. If you know this Ludlow block then you know who I am talking about. Soon 
we will lose two more bodega’s on Stanton Street. And yes, in a real way, I am trying to be attention to our local problems.


Not sure about heroic efforts to save Taylor, as this is about the 3rd go around with his different landlords. At least I am doing something real, as well as, positive. As to reminding you of my LES battles, of course, why not, it has been something I have been involved in for many years. Still am. I never gave up, never gave in, never quit. It is a large apart of what my life and art has been about for years. It
 is who I am. The art show I have up right now is the work of a homeless artist. He has been homeless for 19 years. He was a part of the early 1990’s EV scene. I think I have made my contribution to the anti-gentrification movement.

    And what? Now is your turn to step up? A little late but better late than never- I guess. But to stand up you have to use your name. 

I never said I was more principled than anyone else. Maybe it seems that way to you because I do stand up. I do put my name to what I do. I do not hide behind a name of some mysterious organization. 

    Not sure who the lobbying firm is- and no I am not paid by SoHo House. I have been offered a membership and I am not sure I will take it. And yes I am offered a show. I am weighing my options. Why? Because my section of the LES has changed. It is no longer my world. My world has gone. I loved the old hood. I have a massive archive to prove it. I have documented thousands of members of this community. Some from when they were children to now they have children. The old stores and people who worked in them, the politicians, the drug dealers, the drug buyers, the crews, the posse’, the gangbangers, the good guys, the
 bad guys the in between guys. But so much has been washed away.

    The world has changed. New businesses and new 
people are moving in. That is life. That is change. What is, is what is. I am not a hater. What are you offering? 

    As to the zoning we shall see. Are you telling me that the new hotel on Ludlow to Orchard cannot go up 27 stories? 

    After much deliberation and thinking I do support SoHo
 House. I am not convinced it is for me, but it does not have to be for ME. It is not all about ME. I do believe I may be able to get some locals a free membership in the club. So if other artist want to join I may be 
able to help them.

    Another point is I appreciate the fact that the SoHo House is started and run by an 
individual. Different from the New Museum- go look at how corporate and unconnected to the community that place is. The New Museum is taller than 6 stories. What local art
 organizations allow in children, are easy to get art studios in? CSV? We lost the Pitt Street Boys Club. I have no idea what you are talking about here. Does the New Museum offer this?


If anyone wants to know my position on any of this- or wants
 to talk to me about any of this- I am here. Stop by. I have 
nothing to hide. Believe me I am more up to date than this lady is giving me credit for. And no I will not step aside. I will continue to fight for what I believe in. I will end by saying this anonymous lady’s remarks about my not having accomplished anything 
are just wrong. I stand by my record. And I ask her: what is 
this real choice she is talking about?

    One more point- if you went to the “new” Ludlow hotel meeting in that “new” bar then you got onto the list of people and have been contacted by their rep. I did ask for some help with one community problem and so far nothing real has happened. Hmmm. It is one thing to talk and smile and another thing to do. So far more smiles then help.

    thanks clayton

  15. This message is from Clayton Patterson:

    There you go. Now you are talking a real issue. An issue that matters. An issue that can possibly be negotiated. Write something up on this point. I will try and help you with this. Yours is the first real concrete issue that could have long term consequences. This is a real talking point. Contact me- claytonpatterson161@gmail.com.

  16. Clayton — Ludlow St. has a height cap of 80ft under current zoning, and the current building is already 40ft on the north lot and closer to 70ft on the south lot. It’s not ideal for demolition and redevelopment. More likely an owner would build up four stories on the north lot since the there’s (exactly) 25% remaining unused floor space allowable as-of-right.

  17. Go apply for a job maybe if you qualify then they’ll “GIVE” it to you. You as a neighbor should support your local businesses. Im lucky I don’t have a neighbor like you!

  18. a second issue that matters, and that we might negotiate with soho house: there are simply too many liquor licensed establishments in this neighborhood already. would soho house be willing to buy out one of the more offensive of these and retire the license in order to reduce neighborhood opposition to their plan? something like that would certainly appeal to me.

  19. The high-rise buildings dotting the LES do not project the future. They are the relics of the pre-2008 zoning.

    The New Museum was well underway by 2008. The hotel under construction on Orchard will rise to 24 stories because the construction permits were approved in 2005 and renewed continuously by the old and current owners. Further, the blue building, Thompson LES, 188 Ludlow, 180 Ludlow, and THOR all passed through Buildings before the rezoning. 180 Orchard is the last site (to my knowledge) holding permits that allow it to violate the 80′ height limit. As Rob explained, the Soho House site is not attractive for redevelopment. We have real issues to balance in this small slice of LES. The threat of a 12-story building at this location is not among them.

  20. thanks for the advice, neighbor, i already have a job that i like very much. the hours are a conventional 9-5, and my sleep schedule is pretty conventional too. unfortunately, as the number of bars and night lifers has increased in the neighborhood it’s become increasingly difficult to get a decent night’s rest, hence my opposition to yet more bars and liquor licenses on my block. i am very much in favor of jobs and revenue in the ‘hood, and i notice that there are many alternatives to the night life that can provide that adequately. it is my opinion that “entertainment zones” are best located in non-resedential neighborhoods so that these sort of conflicts of usage don’t occur. whoever decided that our neighborhood should be an “entertainment zone” could only have been thinking of the benefit to the bar and club business and patrons, and not of local residents. my observation is that most of the folks coming to party in hell square do not live there. i am pretty sure that if they were to raise that sort of ruckus in their own neighborhoods they’d be arrested. at any rate, each side of this conflict will compete for their interest, and what will be will be.

    i live on the corner of ludlow and rivington, by the way. you?

  21. So your point is you don’t want new businesses in this neighborhood or people from other neighborhoods in this neighborhood, might as well shut down the city from tourist also. I live on ludlow between Stanton and Houston st. The CB3’s manager and the so called dwellers or the opposers never opposed the hotel on ludlow which got a full liquor license and 4am closing, with and out door lounge area. Yea that would be the same block I live in. What happen? There was not 1 opposition against them, was somebody paid under the table? My point is why single out just a few and not everyone? Just like they singled out the real dwellers of this neighborhood the guys opening up a latin bistro on 106 rivington st. just because they applied next to the building where the little group”dwellers” leader live in . Please!!! Talking about the “hell square” or “the entertainment zone”… What my block is not consider? Again if there in it for this neighborhood why single out just a few? Why not everyone ?

  22. Doesn’t the fact that Clayton got his approval bought by Soho House with a free membership mean anything to anyone? I mean, really. Goes to show you that even the oldest “anarchists” have their price in the end. Also, Clayton OWNS property on Essex Street, so I’m sure he sees that his property values will go WAY up with the Soho House there. Anyone frat bar, not so much.

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