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Artists Demand Boycott of Gowanus Hotel over Noise Dispute

By Leslie Albrecht | February 19, 2013 8:06am

GOWANUS — They're marching to their own drummer.

A group of Gowanus artists are going on the offensive against a Third Avenue hotel whose manager says guests are complaining about late-night drumming from the artists' building.

Dancers, musicians and other creative types from the Gowanus Arts Building at 295 Douglass St. have collected more than 200 signatures on an online petition demanding a boycott of their next-door neighbor, Marriott's Fairfield Inn on Third Avenue.

The hotel's general manager says his guests are being robbed of sleep by late-night drumming at the arts building, the Daily News first reported. General Manager Darren Piercey told the News that he's been forced to issue refunds and get white noise machines to drown out the drumming. Piercey could not be reached for comment on Monday.

"We strongly support our community and the diversity within, but at the end of the day, constant drumming that lasts well past 2 a.m. in the morning is completely unacceptable," Piercey wrote in an email to a musician who rents space at the Gowanus Arts Building. He added, "Many of our corporate guests are here on business and usually have an early start to their day."

But Elise Long, a co-owner of the arts building and founder of the Spoke the Hub dance group, says Marriott should have done its homework before opening a hotel catering to corporate clients on gritty Third Avenue. Long says truck traffic is far noisier than the activities in the arts building, which she set up in Gowanus 30 years ago because the neighborhood was zoned for manufacturing, not residential uses.

Long called the conflict between the hotel and the arts building a classic urban tale — artists flocked to Gowanus because of its industrial edge, and now that the neighborhood is improving, corporate interests are arriving to reap the rewards of gentrification, she said. The hotel opened in 2011.

"The story right now is an old one: artists come in, make it desirable, then corporate guy comes in and says get out," Long told DNAinfo New York. "That's the fear. I thought, let me take the offensive first."

Long's move was to launch the online boycott campaign. It asks that the hotel leave the arts building's musicians alone and "solve their own soundproofing issues" and it demands that Marriott reimburse the arts building for damage to a wall that Long says was caused by the hotel's construction.

"The best outcome would be [the hotel makes] financial restitution, we start over, and they actually say, 'How can we be a good neighbor?'" Long said. "I'm totally ready to work with them."

Long also wants the Fairfield Inn to provide more details about guests' complaints — how many there are, how often they happen, and what the decibel level of the noise is. She said she polled musicians in the building and found that most practice on weekend mornings; only one solo drummer said he may have practiced late at night once or twice in the last year, Long said.

Fairfield Inn general manager Darren Piercey wrote in the email to the musician that the hotel was tracking the noise complaints and calling 311 about the racket. But a spokesman for the city's Department of Environmental Protection said the agency hasn't received any noise complaints, from 311 or other sources, about the arts building.