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Walker Street neighbors on M1-5: “It’s not normal”


So what’s worse: the unctuous bar owner who gives lip service to neighbors and then does what he wants anyway, or the guy that basically says screw you from the start?

The neighbors of M1-5 at 52 Walker certainly know now — after the CB1 Licensing and Permits Committee — exactly which one they are dealing with.

After complaining for years, residents along the stretch of Walker between Church and Broadway have rallied together to push CB1 and eventually the State Liquor Authority to revoke the bar’s license. They now have 68 signatures from residents of 12 buildings, all of whom have protested what they say is clearly a nightclub even though it doesn’t have a permit for dancing or live music or a DJ. Neighbors in 51 and 56 Walker all recounted tales of late night/early morning patrons fighting in the street, damage to their buildings, and most of all the pounding noise from the club’s music.

“It’s not normal,” said one resident who developed 56 Walker and who said he put in three layers of sound-proofing when he built the building — and it’s not working. “I’ve gone in there. The level of volume — it’s almost painful.”

After listening to several complaints, the owner shot back, completely unrepentant and unapologetic, or as one board member described, “arrogant”: “I am afforded rights by the EPA — if I am too loud, they can come give me a ticket and then shut me down. It’s not a discotheque, it’s not a dance club. It’s a tavern. I am not in your apartment. I don’t know what it sounds like.”

(An aside: While I kind of like the name, 52 Walker is actually in a C6-2A mixed use zoning district, and in the Tribeca East Historic District; the owners would have to cross Canal to find the closest M1-5 manufacturing zone if they want to properly represent.)

If neighbors accounts are correct, the bar is at the very least violating its hours of operation. One of the most recent complaints was chants of “fight, fight, fight” coming through to the backs of the buildings at 4:15a on the Monday morning of fashion week. And the residents of 56 Walker hired a top-notch acoustic consultant to measure the decibels in their building: on one Saturday night it was 250 percent above the legal limit. “They are operating an illegal club, and it’s not just a nightclub, it’s a dayclub, starting at 2 p.m. and going till 4 a.m.”

The owner said he has never been fined by the EPA even though they have been there to inspect — though the CB said the office FOIA-ed the police records for the club and discovered some arrests. So that leads me to believe there is some “arrangement” with the EPA, or they came on a Tuesday.

Moving forward, CB1 will start a dossier on the club and collect evidence of any kind, as well as a list of 311 reports. The whole package will then be turned over to the SLA urging them to revoke the license.

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