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Andre Balazs Gets OK For Cooper Square Hotel Takeover

By Patrick Hedlund | September 20, 2011 6:31am

EAST VILLAGE — Hotshot hotelier Andre Balazs' newly acquired Cooper Square Hotel received initial approval Monday to transfer its liquor licenses from the previous owner.

Balazs, who owns the High Line-straddling Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District and Mercer Hotel in SoHo, recently purchased the gleaming East Fifth Street inn after an earlier plan by owners of the SoHo and TriBeCa Grand Hotels to buy the building fell through.

He appeared before Community Board 3’s liquor license committee Monday night to request transferring licenses for the hotel's existing nightlife operations from the prior owners.

Balazs, looking dapper as usual, received ringing endorsements from a host of notable friends in attendance, including Paper magazine founder David Hershkovits and entertainment scribe Ben Widdicombe.

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood, in SoHo specifically, for 30 years,” Balazs explained to the committee, regarding his intention to run a respectable operation at the 21-story hotel.

“It’s my neighborhood. … For us, it’s very much a community hotel.”

Some concerned residents brought up the adverse history between the hotel and neighbors concerning the high-rise’s second-floor outdoor terrace, which has been a major source of contention regarding noise issues.

Balazs expressed interest in a suggestion by one East Fifth Street resident to enclose the space, while also agreeing to adhere to the more than two-dozen stipulations established by the committee and previous operator.

The hotelier’s attorney, Rob Bookman, pointed out that the Cooper Square Hotel under Balazs would not seek to emulate his popular Meatpacking District inn.

“We’re not looking for another Standard Hotel,” he said, as a resident questioned whether the new venture would attract the kind of crowds the Standard does.

Some committee members liked the idea of Balazs taking over, recommending that the hotel look to hire staff locally.

“I think this is good for the community,” said committee member David Conn.

Balazs also said he intends to change the theme of the hotel’s nightlife operations, including revamping the cuisine.

After the meeting, however, he said he didn’t plan to rebrand the hotel’s ground-floor restaurant, The Trilby, after a string of failed eateries in the space.

“I’m very happy, I’m very pleased with it,” he said of purchasing the towering hotel, which he repeated would not attempt to replicate the Standard. “It’s a very different place.”

Community Board 3's full board will vote on the committee's decision on Sept. 27.