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Soho House Reps and Local Residents Discuss Lower East Side Plans

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Soho House provided several images of 139 Ludlow in its CB3 application.
Soho House provided several images of 139 Ludlow in its CB3 application.

A few new developments today regarding Soho House’s controversial bid for a liquor license at 139 Ludlow St., where the private members’ club plans to open a Lower East Side branch.   Last night, representatives from the club met for about two hours with local residents, including members of the LES Dwellers group, a neighborhood association with strong reservations about the proposal. More on that in a moment.  The liquor permit application is now available on Community Board 3’s web site.  It will be considered May 20, when CB3’s SLA Committee meets.

You can read the whole document here, or review the highlights below:

  • There will be a total of 95 seats on three floors, including 56 seats on a roof deck that will constructed.
  • According o the application, the roof garden will be open from 7 a.m.-2 a.m.
  • Three bars are planned, including a bar on the roof with 8 seats.
  • 170 people will work at the club, including a licensed security guard to be stationed outside every evening.
  • There will be live music and dj’s 6 nights a week.  Musical performances are planned from 6-8 p.m.; dj’s would go until 2 a.m.
  • According to Community Board 2, the city’s 311 system has recorded 10 complaints at Soho House’s location in the Meatpacking District between May and August of last year.

Images, menus, etc. included in the application:

soho house 2

soho house 3

Floor plan for proposed roof garden.
Floor plan for proposed roof garden.

soho house 6

soho house 7

soho house 10


Now, on to last night’s meeting.  Around 30-40 people showed up to meet with Soho House representatives, including Pierre Dourneau (who’s overseeing the project) and Rachel Smith (the club’s membership director).   They have been holding open houses for several weeks in which neighbors have had the opportunity to look over renderings and chat informally with Soho House staff. Last night’s event was more formal — the group gathered around a sofa and a few chairs set up in the barren ground floor space.

The meeting was intended to specifically gather feedback regarding the potential uses of a community space the club is offering to create. Dourneau said construction crews will dig below ground to create a lower level at 139 Ludlow (currently there’s no basement).  The community space would be about 1,000 square feet, perhaps, accommodating around 60 people.  One resident, K. Webster, suggested the space could become a bottle redemption center or a place for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.  But there were few other suggestions from those gathered.  For the most part, the two-hour conversation focused on the larger proposal, and the opposition among many residents to any more liquor licenses in this particular area.  Soho House’s community board application notes there are 50 establishments within 500 feet of the proposed club with full bars.

One man, referring to the nightlife scene on Ludlow Street, said, “It’s beyond critical mass; it’s an avalanche.”   Diem Boyd, the founder of LES Dwellers, said the community center would do nothing to address the key problems in the immediate area: huge crowds, late night noise, disrespectful behavior from drunken revelers and streets congested with taxis and private cars.   A woman, who said she respected the club’s efforts to work with the community, said she is mystified by Soho House’s desire to come to the Lower East Side, a neighborhood that she said lost its creative cache years ago. “Why don’t you go the Buchwick?” she asked.  A few residents suggested that, if Soho House really wants to do something helpful, they’d “buy out one of those disgusting bars (in the immediate vicinity) and turn it into a community center.”  A tenant who said his bedroom window is located five feet from the proposed roof garden, was concerned about the hours of operation in the outdoor space.

At least a dozen people in attendance last night said they had been to events at Soho House on the West Side, and a number of attendees raised their hands indicating they would apply to become members on the LES.  Several residents said they would likely support the proposal because it is a high quality business devoted to nurturing the creative class and because it’s better to have a responsible private club in the Ludlow Street building than another boozy bar.  On a few occasions, residents debated amongst themselves; one man saying, ‘we need to be practical; asking them to buy a bar is just not realistic. I personally would love to see Soho House rather than another shit bar.”

Rachel Smith, the membership director, argued that Soho House is not just a nighttime destination but a daytime refuge for artists and other creative people who want a positive environment to relax, to work and to “build their careers.”  She said the club’s members would provide something the neighborhood desperately needs, daytime foot traffic to support local businesses such as tailors and bakeries.  She and Dourneau both emphasized that there would be no “rope line” outside 139 Ludlow because only members and a small number of invited guests will be be allowed inside.   Contrary to the information included in the community board application, Dourneau said the roof would be closed at midnight, and music would not be permitted after 9 p.m.   One man asked whether the club would be willing to apply for a wine and beer only permit.  Dourneau said “no.”

In the end, there were no firm conclusions.  Soho House will be meeting individually with the Ludlow Street block association, and the club has been urged to consult with local settlement houses for suggestions about the community space.

Stay tuned…



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  1. If the roof garden is to close at midnight and music to be stopped by 9PM as Dourneau said, then why would the CB3 application request a 2 AM nightly closure? The same tactic is being used by the new Fung Tu application at 22 Orchard: the application says one thing – 2 AM – but the owners say they won’t stay open that late. How stupid do they think the LES community is??

  2. Why wouldn’t it be realistic to buy out places like Fat Baby or Libation and have them transformed into community spaces or any other kind of daytime business they decide?

    They have the money (plenty) to do it and that would be a real public benefit for the community. I am sorry but a 1,000 sq ft dark basement as a community center doesn’t really help that much…

  3. Sound proof my god damn windows and stay as late as you like. My bedroom sits kitty corner to Soho house and I am not one bit happy about noise from that roof.

  4. They would never follow up on their promises anyway for a community center so instead, the most important point is whether the neighborhood can bear a late-night incredibly noisy roof garden as well as drunken guests crowding the streets after 2 AM

  5. One thousand feet in a windowless basement that is not even dug yet, that may not get DOB permission to dig. Servants entrance too.

  6. The rooftop bar and patio is simply a disaster waiting to happen for local residents. Does anyone believe it won’t include a sound system?

  7. Did you even read the full article? If you did and have a little bit of brain left inside your head you can see that Diem and the “clowns”, as you like to call them, are opposing Soho House too AND many other places in the neighborhood.

    It seems you are still bitter about the 106 Rivington case. Maybe you should show up to the meetings to either oppose or support your causes and stop hiding behind a computer screen blabbering your regular and hateful nonsense.

  8. Yea Diem, Im not the one hiding behind a computer I in the other hand speak the truth and what I’ve witness. So if you think I have a reason to hide your mistaken. Let’s see what happens May 20th trust me there’s no hiding on this side. You’ll see what Im talking about.

  9. You are still NOT answering the question. Did you read the full article? Did you understand the reporter is saying that the group of “clowns” as you like to call the Dwellers every time you have a chance are opposed?

    And I am not Diem btw! :) Peace!

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