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Police Step Up Security Outside Rowdy Gansevoort Hotel

By Mary Johnson | July 26, 2012 5:35pm
Representatives from the Gansevoort Park Avenue hotel recently met with police and neighbors to help find a solution to the noise concerns.
Representatives from the Gansevoort Park Avenue hotel recently met with police and neighbors to help find a solution to the noise concerns.
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MIDTOWN — Police are stepping up enforcement outside the rowdy Gansevoort Park Avenue hotel, where patrons' revelry has been driving neighbors crazy.

After news broke that the hotel’s raucous Sunday pool parties were infuriating neighbors and possibly violating building occupancy rules, officers from the 13th Precinct worked to disperse crowds lingering in front of the hotel last weekend, Community Board 5 members said.

The hotel, on Park Avenue South near East 29th Street, also increased its own security force in an attempt to quiet the noise that reverberates through the surrounding buildings, community board members said.

Asa Somers, vice chairman of the board's public safety and quality of life committee, provided the security update to concerned residents at a meeting Wednesday night.

“It’s a very delicate process,” Somers said of reducing the hotel's impact on the community.

“If we can come away with a 10 percent increase in everyone getting along," he added, "that would be a great first step.”

The Community Board 5 meeting on Wednesday night was originally intended to review the Gansevoort Park Avenue hotel’s request to renew its liquor license, but Nicholas Athanail, chairman of the CB5 committee that reviews such requests, said the State Liquor Authority had already approved that renewal.

“Renewals are pretty much rubber stamps these days,” Athanail said. “Even if we did have objections to the renewal, it’s unlikely anything would be done about it.”

Somers added that the issues at the hotel — including possible overcrowding and noise concerns — are not those that the SLA weighs heavily in making its decisions.

“They deal with shootings. They deal with underage drinking. They deal with selling of drugs.” Somers said. “If [venues] keep their noses clean in these regards, they’re way down on the radar.”

So community members are instead taking action where they can.

CB5 organized a meeting between hotel representatives, police officers and residents — about 80 people in total — on July 11 to air concerns and brainstorm solutions to problems.

As a result of that meeting, Somers said the hotel has committed to increase the number of security personnel present on days and nights when the partying is in full swing.

In a statement, a representative from the hotel said the Gansevoort is "making every possible effort to ensure the safety and enjoyment of our guests."

Also, in response to claims that the pool party crowds were exceeding legal limits, the Department of Buildings inspected the hotel on Sunday and found that it was complying with all occupancy regulations, both for the pool area and the hotel as a whole, a DOB spokeswoman said.

The DOB will continue to monitor the hotel to make sure it remains in compliance, the spokeswoman added, but if people have specific concerns, they should call 311 so the DOB can investigate.

Officers from the 13th Precinct have also been responsive, saying they would take a closer look at the bar going forward to make sure the situation there remains under control.

In addition, the precinct reached out to the Department of Transportation to request changes in the parking regulations on Park Avenue South in front of the Gansevoort and in front of other known nighttime hot spots.

Potential changes include eliminating overnight parking in front of establishments that are known to let out crowds of people late at night so that taxis can have easy access to patrons waiting to leave. This would help stem some of the traffic problems in these areas late at night, police said, and would also help disperse crowds more quickly and limit noise.

A spokesman for the DOT said the agency would evaluate the request.

Judy Olsen, who was among the group of about 10 residents who attended Wednesday’s community board meeting, said the idea had the potential to make a positive impact on the block.

“I know it’s not going to solve all the problems,” she said at the meeting. “[But] I think it would help.”

None of the residents in attendance lived in the building across from the Gansevoort on East 29th Street that has been most directly affected by the pool parties.

Community board members at the meeting also encouraged frustrated neighbors to continue calling 311 to report complaints and to unify under a block association or other organization.

“There’s power in numbers,” Athanail said. “The more sophisticated you become, the more you can accomplish.”