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Soho House Invites Community To Discuss Public Space, Screens Taylor Mead Films

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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.

Next month – May 20th to be exact – Soho House will finally go before Community Board 3’s SLA Committee, asking it to support a full bar within 139 Ludlow St., the former funeral home destined to be the private members’ club’s new location on the Lower East Side.  Having withdrawn from the agenda on two previous occasions, Soho House settled on a plan to establish a publicly accessible community space in the building.  Over the weekend, we heard from club representatives, who are hoping to engage people from the neighborhood this coming Wednesday evening about potential uses for that public area.

Soho House has held a series of informal open houses inside 139 Ludlow, but Wednesday’s session will be a bit more specific, focused on the things people would like to see in a public facility (a library, an arts space, a venue for talks and performances are ideas that have been floated).  The open house begins at 7:30 p.m., if you’re interested in attending. 

On May 8, there will be another event at Soho House on the LES, a screening of some of legendary artist Taylor Mead’s 16mm films.  The event is a collaboration with the Film-Makers’ CooperativeMM Serra will introduce the films.  A few weeks ago, Mead temporarily relocated from his Ludlow Street home to Colorado.   The screening takes place at 7 p.m.

Soho House has received a mixed reaction on the Lower East Side so far. A neighborhood organization, LES Dwellers, has expressed many concerns about the club in a nightlife-centric swathe of the neighborhood.  Others, including longtime Taylor Mead friend Clayton Patterson, have argued that the club should be given a chance, especially if it demonstrates support for the LES arts community.


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  1. At this point the stakes have gotten incredibly high.
    The stakeholders?

    LANDLORDS are having a LES dot-com bubble and getting sky-high rents for potential entertainment spaces.
    BAR OWNERS have the potential to make huge amounts of money in a short amount of time.
    RESIDENTS are being hit in the pocketbook as the bars externalize their
    operating costs on them while noise and street disturbance drastically
    decreases their quality of life.
    State Law requires an applicant seeking a permit within 500 feet
    of three or more existing permits to prove a “public benefit” in establishing an additional licensed venue. It is time for CB3 and the SLA to define their term “public benefit”.
    Is it a “public benefit’ if a potential bar owner was born in the neighborhood?
    Is it a “public benefit” if a potential bar owner made a donation to a PTA auction or handed out some turkeys?
    Is it a “public benefit” if a potential bar owner designates some real estate for undefined community use?
    Or has the saturation of bars and the deterioration of quality of
    life in our neighborhood gotten so bad that nothing is worth it….that there can be no “public benefit” in adding another venue to the chaos?
    I urge CB3 and the SLA, in close collaboration with the community, to decide on a clear definition of their term “public benefit” before they proceed with any more SLA Committee decisions.

  2. Emily you need a life. oh i forgot your one of the so called dwellers that has lived a decade in my neighborhood and now your the mayor of the L.E.S. Pleeeaaaasssseee….

  3. The problem is the stakeholders haven’t had much say in what is at stake. The trifecta, NY SLA, landlords catering to booze-driven businesses, and the community board, have had all the say in shaping our community. Isn’t it time this changed? Don’t we deserve other retail options other than booze and nightlife for our community, especially for our children? The question begs what is at stake for Soho House? Why here? Why so much effort for a liquor license? Soho-Ludlow House is betting L.E.S. residents, so browbeaten by years of quality of life abuses, are weak enough to fall for a community center-for-a-liquor-license rouse and not question the blatant bribing of a few local artists with a show and memberships for support. Soho House is bending over backwards to convince the L.E.S. it is a better and different alternative for our community, and will not add to the chaos. Soho House L.E.S. going as far as to change its name in an attempt to distance itself from the Soho House brand found in Meatpacking, Miami, LA, Berlin, etc.

    Soho-Ludlow House is all in, chips piled high, wanting us to believe that they have the winning hand. It’s time we called their bluff. Soho House over- reached when it changed its name, catered to the egos of a few local artists, and offered a community center, believing that they outsmarted the L.E.S. Their fatal misstep was to bet against the people who call the L.E.S. home. My money is, and will always be, on the people who live here. The people who are smart enough to know that the only change Soho House will bring is more crowds, noise and traffic, and a new type of nightlife will follow. Libation and Pianos will simply change their names, becoming more like the Meatpacking venues that sprouted around Soho House there. Ask anyone living in Meatpacking if there situation is better than what we have now? The few retail stores holding on to survive will not see more foot traffic coming through their doors because contrary to what Soho House claims it’s profits are highest during the evening hours. Be sure that the few dry good stores left will not have leases renewed as landlords replace them with businesses willing to pay higher rents coming off the heels of Soho House. Ditto on residential rents, which will increase significantly and rent-control and rent-stabilized tenants will find themselves trying to hold on to their apartments from landlords that want market rate rents. The few restaurants left on the L.E.S. will not see their customer base increase because within the private walls of Soho House food and drinks are sold to their members.

    What public benefit does Soho House offer us? 200 feet in any direction 106 Rivington Street, Pianos, and Tiny Fork were all denied licenses, why should Soho House be any different?

  4. They have the chips but, as voting constituents, the deck is stacked in our favor. It’s plainly obvious that S.H. doesn’t value the neighborhood the same way the residents do. If it did, at best it would recognize that it is not wanted, and at worst it would use all those creative types they have to creatively devise a way to remove liquor licenses from the establishments that are most destructive to the local quality of life. For example, if they bought out Libation and Pianos and turned *those* locations into community centers (or something with similar, obvious public benefit), then I would *consider* supporting them. It’s a demand that is as absurd as it is honest and necessary, and puts all their chips to mutually-beneficial use.

  5. Since the Latin Bistro was denied a full-liquor license, Soho House should also be denied by CB3’s SLA Committee because it is in the same saturated area. Soho House’s so-called offer of a ‘public benefit’ or a promise of a community center is simply pure crap. This kind of thing has been promised countless times by greedy developers and they always get away with providing nothing to the community but their nightmare presence. Once they’re in, it’s so hard, if not impossible, to get rid of them

  6. A private club by definition has no “public benefit”.

    There should be a rule that saturated areas’ # of liquor licenses stay at a set limit, so that a new one only gets approved when a current one closes. Equal for both sides of the conflict – ya get one, ya give one.

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