CB3 Denies EMM Alteration to Legitimize Finale at 199 Bowery

Posted on: March 12th, 2013 at 6:05 am by
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Round 2 of EMM Group versus the Bowery transpired last night at the monthly Community Board 3 subcommittee meeting. After a February layover, co-owners Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm (sans suits) reappeared to argue the case for a liquor license alteration for Finale. The two-hour bout ultimately ended in defeat for the aggressors, with the SLA subcommittee voting against moving the dancing component from the basement to ground level. A monkey wrench in the business plans.

Panel chair Alex Militano rehashed the story we know all too well at this point. We’ll give the short version – Lower Eastpacking baited the community with a restaurant/baker/jazz lounge and switched to full-on ground-level club. Over a dozen opponents spoke, and this time, the ante was upped. Visuals! The opposition, most of whom live at 199 Bowery, pulled out the stops with architectural renderings, iPad slideshows, and even a sound demonstration by an audio engineer who rolled in a portable speaker. Moreover, other resident hardships were brought to light, such as a volume-busting AC system, co-op owners moving out, and a leaky restaurant that allegedly damaged personal belongings in basement storage. Two spoke in favor – one building resident and another who lives across the way.

(Throughout these testimonies, our own hearing was clogged due to an earful of mumbling and audible sighing by EMM brass at each complaint.)

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Deliberations lasted at least forty-five minutes, and predominantly focused on how the nightlife combo is operating against the stipulations on which its license is based. Talks seemed to indicate that there might be another hung jury, which no one in the room desired. The scales eventually tipped in favor of the NIMBYs this time around. Realistically speaking, however, we’re a bit dubious about what’ll happen next, assuming the full board approves the measure. Despite the positive outcome for neighbors, the vote probably won’t have teeth. Without enforcement or constant vigilance, EMM’s Lower Eastpacking noise nightmare will likely continue.

In the end, it’s quite ironic that the expertise on which EMM hung their hats ultimately had a hand in the denial. Claiming ignorance about the inability to soundproof the basement (which had been during Crash Mansion) and this notion of being “naive dreamers” is in direct contrast to the sleek nature of their multimillion-dollar business.

But the applicants didn’t completely lose the battle. The crew still walked away with tail between their legs an approval for a sidewalk application, provided dining is dismantled at 10pm on weekdays, and 11pm on weekends.

It’s also worth mentioning that on our way out, Mr. Birnbaum exchanged some fairly heated chit-chat with a resident of 199 Bowery whom he hadn’t yet met. “You have a problem, you call me,” he was overheard yelling.

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