EMM Group Accepts $25k SLA Plea Deal; Birnbaum Says ‘The Bowery has Been a Disaster’

Posted on: April 23rd, 2014 at 10:20 am by
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EMM Group got off the hook yesterday with a mere slap on the wrist for its transgressions at 199 Bowery. Spare the rod, spoil the child. A Boogie reader was in attendance and submitted the following dispatch.

As predicted, the SLA yesterday accepted EMM Group’s guilty plea on all the charges brought against them at 199 Bowery – and got a fat check for $25,000 in return.

By the end of the proceedings, and seemingly ignoring evidence from the many neighbors and residents affected by the mega-complex, Chairman Rosen of the SLA was seemingly convinced by EMM Group representatives that it was, in fact, the residents who were in the wrong and that the club owners’ only crime was that they, experienced as they are, had simply made the rookie mistake of not researching their project sufficiently in advance.

EMM co-owner Mark Birnbaum stood before the Committee like a chastened man and told them that “the Bowery has been a disaster for us.” He explained to the packed room that the mega-club complex has had so many seasonal closures that they have been losing money and that they have had to close the restaurant during the day because nobody comes until around 9pm. The so-called “bakery” was also brought up, and how its closure was a function of alleged insecurities and vulnerabilities about being between a homeless shelter and a half-way house.

Astonishingly, Birnbaum then revealed that a Supreme Court Judge has ordered the club to turn down the volume on the bass frequencies, so beloved by top DJs, and that a microphone linked to a computer has been hung from the ceiling in Finale to monitor the sound levels and make sure that it operates within the Judge’s rulings. This means, in effect, that the club has had to turn down the volume on the thumping bass to around one quarter of its previous levels.

Against evidence to the contrary, Chairman Rosen ultimately decided that the nightlife compound at 199 Bowery – Finale, the General, the General’s cafe and the Jazz Lounge – is now operating within the stipulations laid down by the SLA. Those living in the vicinity blatantly understand that’s not the case. Speaking to Birnbaum in what seemed a peculiarly fatherly manner he said:

“You’ve been a little clumsy in the way you changed your method of operation and for that I’m giving you a little rap on the knuckles.”

The SLA will apparently also be monitoring sound levels at the club but declared itself happy to leave adjudication on the noise issue to the Supreme Court. The Committee went on to say that it did not believe that legitimizing the EMM Group change of operation by accepting the $25,000 offer would give the green light to other developers to employ bait-and-switch tactics in the future because they felt that “ …this is a special case…”

The SLA did not, however, explain why they had decided to go against their own stipulations, leading those in the room to wonder if they even know what those stipulations are.

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