Committee backs liquor license for Tribeca fashion complex

The contested rooftop structure on top of 50 Varick St., where Spring Studios hopes to open.

The contested rooftop structure on top of 50 Varick St., where Spring Studios hopes to open. Downtown Express photo by Kaitlyn Meade

BY KAITLYN MEADE  | The London-based advertising agency Spring Studios received support from Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee to serve alcohol at its upcoming Tribeca location, with stipulations from neighbors and community members.

Wednesday’s Tribeca Committee meeting on April 10 marked Spring Studios’ third appearance before C.B. 1 members, who opposed the liquor license application in November due to community concerns. Some of those concerns were still present at Wednesday’s meeting, particularly regarding traffic patterns and rooftop parties for events.

Community board votes are influential, but advisory and it will be up to the State Liquor Authority to make the final decision.

The overhaul of 50 Varick St. would allow Spring to host everything from fashion shoots to large-scale events for various clients. The ground floor would contain the lobby and a gallery space that will double as a check-in area for events. The rooftop will also be in use as a terrace for events.

After long negotiations, Spring has agreed to the stipulation of hosting only about 30 rooftop events per year. The rooftop would close at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends, with alcohol service stopping an hour before the closing time to encourage people to begin filtering out.

At the meeting, Spring’s events director David Hemphill introduced a security expert and engineers to go over plans to mitigate the impacts on the neighborhood.

No music or amplified sound will be allowed on the roof to cut down on noise complaints, such as a suit filed by investment banker Richard Handler, which claimed that noise and light from the rooftop terrace (and two large freight elevator cabs) would disrupt the view from his penthouse apartment atop the neighboring building One York.

Verizon will keep much of the rooftop’s perimeter for its equipment, creating a partial sound barrier, and Spring is designating a green space that will further keep people away from all edges except the western side overlooking the Holland Tunnel off-ramp.

Spring has also agreed to a capacity of 300 guests on the roof for events, which is about half its actual capacity, but twice as high as a proposal by some of its neighbors.

At a working group on April 5, a limit of 150 people was proposed by Kathleen Cudahy of One York, while Spring’s representative Bradford Sussman would not go below 300.

“Maybe it’s just me at this point, thinking an earlier hour, possibly a larger number. That way we’re not responsible for counting how many people are on the stairs…” said Jeff Ehrlich at the beginning of the working group, who added that enforcing capacity would be difficult.

A total of 291 events or programs (on top of daily activities for clients) was proposed by Spring. A chart compiled by Community Board 1 based on information provided by Spring Studios showed the number of each event with certain closing times and capacities.

Spring proposed that they would host 180 events with under 200 people, but only 15 of those yearly events would have a capacity of 600-800 people.

They have also retained the services of Elite Investigations, a security firm that he said offers special event security, including traffic. Chuck Garelick of Elite presented plans for traffic safety and efficiency in the area, including the possibility of hiring off-duty police officers for traffic control. He also wants to turn the right lane on Varick, which is currently closed during the building’s construction, into a temporary drop-off lane by creating a no-parking zone by applying for a street activity permit.

Security would keep traffic flowing and attendants would provide either valet parking or directions to an out-of-the-way location for black car parking.

At the committee meeting, stipulations on traffic were “mentioned in passing, because the details had already been worked out between residents and Spring Studios,” said C.B. 1’s community liaison Evan Lacher. However, he said that the final stipulations will include language addressing parking and traffic flow issues that were brought up by buildings in proximity to Spring.

Spring had agreed prior to the meeting to having no outside entry line for events, no photographers in a pen outside, no restaurant seating or bar on the roof, and have agreed to consult with a sound engineer to mitigate noise pollution on the rooftop.

A smoking area on a corner of building’s roof, which was a concern at the working group, was not addressed at the Tribeca Committee, said Lacher.

The committee members voted six to two, with one recused, in favor of granting the liquor license with stipulations. The proposal will come to the full board on April 23, before going to the State Liquor Authority.

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