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LES Bars and Nightlife are Ruining the Neighborhood, According to Study

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The NIMBYs are still fighting

Mr. Purple
Mr. Purple, at Hotel Indigo
Mr. Purple

The Lower East Side’s oversaturation of nightlife particularly in an area dubbed Hell Square is apparently causing harmful effects to the neighborhood and its locals. Bowery Boogie reports on the study, conducted by a group of graduate students from Hunter College at the request of the LES Dwellers Block Association, a local NIMBY group resolved in quieting the neighborhood.

The area known as Hell Square is defined by the study as a 24-block area with border streets that include Houston, Allen, Broome, and Clinton Streets (most define Hell Square as the slightly smaller area between East Houston, Allen, Essex, and Delancey Streets).

The first section of the 50-page study states the reason for the research and the main reason for the LES Dwellers’ grief: “Hell Square boasts the highest density of on-premise liquor licenses (OPLL) compared to any other neighborhood across New York City’s five boroughs.” Ultimately, the study finds that while rapid approval of liquor licenses was thought to improve the neighborhood’s development, the LES is suffering intensely.

Here is a full summary of its findings:

After the November 2008 rezoning of the Lower East Side by the Department of CityPlanning, there was a stark increase in average rents and the number of approved on-premise liquor licenses. A New York State policy that streamlines liquor license applications and the expansion of nightlife options in the area acted as a vehicle for economic development, spurring much of the rezoning and gentrification in the neighborhood, which has been called an “entertainment zone” by residents and lawmakers alike. These strategies have demonstrated little regard for the existing community and instead overwhelmingly favor profit-making establishments, largely bars, clubs, and restaurants (New York State Liquor Authority, 2013). Visible and measurable effects include increased crime, serious public health and safety issues, and a general decrease in quality of life.

In its research, the group focused on three major issues: crime, particularly rape and felony assault; residents’ perceptions of public safety; and the impact that on-premise liquor licenses have on quality of life.

Regarding crime, the group found that rape and felony assault increased nearly 45 and 14 percent respectively at the same time these crimes are notably decreasing elsewhere in New York. Focus groups help the study find that LES residents are feeling less safe in the neighborhood, while a decline in the quality of life is attributed to excessive noise and increased rents.

Peep the full study here and do discuss in the comments.