Last night, Matthew Moss, the developer of the Cooper Square Hotel, sat in the hot seat before the East Fifth Street Block Association and local residents, in order to "discuss" some of the grievances the community has with their newest, unwelcome neighbor. On the agenda at this open meeting: several alleged violations of the nearly 30 stipulations agreed to by the hotel during last year's nine month long negotiation process with the community board. Given the recent neighborly displays of aggression and mainstream press coverage, we weren't surprised to see that nearly fifty residents showed up to voice (and yell) their dissatisfaction with the hotel's operation of its two, large outdoor spaces as well as a laundry list of other issues. See our play by play of the meeting ahead, EV Grieve's special live action video, and JVNY's coverage of the Coop's awesomely-timed car event.
1) In the terms agreed upon, the hotel claims that the second floor patio closes at 8pm, seven nights a week. Since the opening of the space a month ago, residents complain that their lives have been constantly interrupted by loud cell phone conversations and cigarette smoking at all hours of the night. Even Moss admits, "We would lock the doors at 8. But even our own hotel guests would simply unlock the doors themselves. I've seen it with my own eyes." The solution: the hotel has already hired a third night time security guard to patrol the outdoor spaces to ensure that they remain clear after the stated hours.
2) Even after the patio is closed, residents report that loud bass and chatter can clearly be heard from the indoor bar that faces the same building. Not only does the hotel often leave the bar doors open at night, but the structure that surrounds it is made of non soundproof glass. The hotel offered this solution: they will pay for double insulated, sound reduction windows for any resident in the neighboring building. The community sees it as only a diversion to fixing the real problem: "Do you expect us to live our lives with the windows closed? There is so much ungodly noise that people's lives are going to be in agony no matter what windows they have."
3) Currently, the only partition separating the outdoor garden on the ground floor from the street and the building next door is a perimeter of planted hedges. These weren't exactly what they had planned to put there: "I'll admit, that didn't really work out like we thought. It will take at least two years for the hedges to grow into a workable barrier." The residents in attendance responded with shouts and complaints, repeatedly murmuring "liar, liar, liar" under their breaths. The solution: The hotel will install some sort of a fence to deflect noise as well as keep people from freely accessing the garden (which is just a short jump away from the neighboring building's fire escape).
4) The last and possibly the easiest issue to remedy was the complaint of guests drinking outside of the hotels entrance. Despite the questionable legality--the CB3 district manager who was present claims it's illegal--the residents complain that by allowing patrons to stand on 5th street with open containers, the hotel is backtracking on the classy, upscale image they promised to promote. The solution: Moss filed this problem under in the "we'll think about it" tab.
5) A highlight from the meeting, this illustrative comment from JVNY: "Everyone agreed Sasha Petraske is a model for a perfect bar neighbor, including the block association head. Ironic that his Mercury Dime on 5th has been denied a wine/beer license while the hotel has "more outdoor space than any hotel in NYC" and several licenses? It was kind of ridiculous."
— Matt Duckor
· Residents Discuss Problems Created by Cooper Square Hotel [EVG]
· Coop Car Party [JVNY]