Neighbors See Noise Nuisance Coming to New Outdoor Spaces Next Door

David Pashman, condo board member of 71 Nassau Street, at the roof deck of his building overlookng 17 John Street, on the right. "You wouldn't think so in a city as noisy as New York, but in this interior light shaft courtyard where it's somewhat insulated from street noise, voices echo and carry." Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Apr. 25, 2017

A renovated 17 John Street is slated to open late this year, its floors divided between extended stay hotel rooms and co-working spaces. Called The Assemblage and developed by Prodigy Network, the 15-story building will have terraces on the third and sixth floors as well as a roof deck where people can take their drinks outside and socialize.

For the residents of an adjacent condominium building at 71 Nassau Street, those three open-air mingling spaces are three too many.

The walls of the two buildings connect in a rear courtyard, a potential echo chamber, they say, of life-disrupting music and chatter.

“We believe that the use of the outdoor space and the amplified music will create a nuisance to our residents, many of whom sleep feet from the balcony,” said Jonathan Dunner, a 71 Nassau board member whose own sixth-floor bedroom looks out onto a sixth-floor terrace that is now under construction.

Dunner was speaking for his building earlier this month at Community Board 1’s Licensing and Permits Committee, where Assemblage representatives were seeking support for a liquor license for their two bars, located on the second and third floors. There would be “recorded background music with the ability for a DJ and live music for private events,” according to the developer's lawyer, Ben Savitsky.

That kind of activity is enough to justify opposition to a liquor license, residents argued. “It’s not about the liquor license per se,” said David Pashman, a member of the condo board. “It’s about the liquor license in connection with the outdoor space.”

Assemblage representatives described a mellow scene coming to 17 John Street, with programming that features yoga and meditation, and a “strong focus” on juices, elixirs, smoothies and even herbal medicines. The music would be meditative and “aligned with our mantra, and that’s about wellness, and co-working and networking,” said Oliver Duckworth, who heads Assemblage’s food and beverage operation. “We don’t want dance DJ’s.”

Savitsky argued that noise on the roof would be abated by a wall, and by mechanicals that would drown out voices. The third-floor terrace would not face 71 Nassau and no music would be allowed on the roof or sixth floor, he said.

The Assemblage developers were asking for a license that would allow alcohol in the outdoor spaces until midnight, seven days a week, a request that clearly was not going to fly with the committee. Susan Cole, the committee’s co-chair, offered a compromise. “Seven is the latest anyone can be on those outdoor spaces,” she offered. “Seven o’clock is it. Then there’s nothing out there.”

“Nine o’clock, hard stop, on the alcohol outside,” Savitsky countered.

A chorus of “No!” rang out in the room.

Savitsky then suggested closing the two patios at eight and the roof at nine.

Again, “No!”

Cole was emphatic. “You take it or you leave it!”

“Meditation is silent. Yoga is calm,” Savitsky argued meekly, now seemingly resigned to the fact that the committee would not budge.

And they did not. Tuesday evening the full board unanimously called on the State Liquor Authority to restrict The Assemblages use of its outdoor spaces to noon until 7 p.m.