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Soho House's Liquor License for LES Outpost Shot Down by Community Board

 An image of the bar at Soho House in the Meatpacking District.
An image of the bar at Soho House in the Meatpacking District.
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Soho House

LOWER EAST SIDE — In a final bid, Soho House representatives failed to secure the support of Community Board 3 Tuesday night as members rejected a liquor license application for the proposed Lower East Side club Ludlow House.

In the face of staunch opposition from some local residents, the full board voted 25-12 in favor of denying its support for the private club's liquor license application for 139 Ludlow St.

The liquor license committee of CB3 had already voted to reject the liquor license last week after Ludlow House failed to demonstrate how it could benefit an area known for its oversaturation of nightlife venues.

The members-only club, which already has a location in the Meatpacking District, plans to convert a former funeral home into a four-level complex with numerous bars, including one on its rooftop, as well as setting aside space for community use.

Ludlow House will now apply for its license directly to the State Liquor Authority without the support of CB3, said the group's attorney, Donald Bernstein. Opponents of the club said they would continue to fight the proposal.

"We are committed to challenging this application to the highest level," said Diem Boyd, 41, a local resident and member of LES Dwellers, a group that advocates for quality-of-life issues in the area. "This neighborhood can not just be a destination for nightlife."

Numerous residents spoke against Ludlow Houses' liquor license at the CB3 meeting, with some claiming their bedroom window would be less than 10 feet from the proposed rooftop bar, which would also include a glassed-in dining area.

Marvin Avilez, a 43-year-old Lower East Side resident, spoke of his concern for the possible excess road traffic the club would bring and its impact on existing nightlife noise levels in the area, as well as the exclusivity of the Soho House.

"Membership is subjective. You must include a photo with your application," he said of the application process for existing Soho House locations.

Membership to Ludlow House will cost between $800 and $2,400, which Avilez and other local residents argued is out of reach for many who live in the area.

Soho House started in London's Soho area and has numerous clubs around the world geared toward a creative clientele.

Nonetheless, some local residents and business owners spoke in support of the proposed club.

Michael Chernow, the owner of The Meatball Shop and a Soho Club member, said using the Meatpacking District location for work meetings and as a pseudo-office helped establish his business.

His restaurant, which started on the Lower East Side, now has four locations in the city.

"They flew myself and a chef out to [the Soho House in LA] to cook for people there," he said. "I can't tell you the amount of exposure that offered The Meatball Shop."

Bob Zuckerman, of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, also expressed his support for Ludlow House.

"It will keep our creative people here, keep them spending money in the neighborhood and create daytime foot traffic," he said.