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7-Eleven's Noisy Fridge Unit Forces Family to Sleep in Living Room

By Lisha Arino | October 8, 2014 8:51am
 Neighbors of the 7-Eleven at 170 Ave. A said the unit creates constant noise and slight vibrations.
Neighbors Complain About 7-Eleven Refrigeration Units in the East Village
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EAST VILLAGE — A 7-Eleven on the corner of Avenue A and East 11th Street is causing sleepless nights, neighbors say.

The store's noisy refrigeration unit, located in the alley between the store and the apartment building next door, has kept residents up with its rattling and humming that has echoed off the walls since it was installed more than a year ago, they said.

“We can’t sleep in our bedrooms,” said Maria Rosenblum, whose family has resorted to laying down mattresses in the living room for some shut-eye. “That’s how we deal.”

The machine, located just a few feet from some apartments, makes so much noise that the Department of Environmental Protection has issued a cease and desist order to discontinue operation of the unit, records show. 7-Eleven representatives also appeared in front of the Environmental Control Board on Oct. 7, a DEP spokesman said.

Noise from 7-Eleven Refrigeration Unit
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Brian Katz

At the hearing, a judge granted a two-week adjournment after a 7-Eleven representative said the franchise was entering into a contract to have the equipment moved. The judge gave 7-Eleven two weeks to submit a signed contract to show that the units would be placed elsewhere, he said.

Neighbors were skeptical and said that the harsh noise has plagued them for more than a year.

“We live in the East Village. Noise is part of the scene here,” said Rosenblum’s husband, Brian Katz. But the sounds coming from 7-Eleven’s refrigeration unit, which also causes slight vibrations, are different, he said.

Before the convenience store moved in September 2013, two bars occupied the space, he said. Katz said he thought they were better neighbors and said the manager of one of the bars, Angels and Kings, would turn down the volume if they called to complain about noise.

7-Eleven, however, has not been responsive to tenants' requests to fix or move the refrigeration unit and the building’s landlord, Westminster City Living, has largely ignored their requests for help, Katz and Rosenblum said.

A spokesman for Westminster said the company — which is owned by real estate scion Jared Kushner — has been trying to meet with the 7-Eleven for the past eight months, but the franchise has refused.

“We completely agree with local residents. The units installed and owned by 7-Eleven need to be moved, and we’re working to make sure it happens,” the spokesman said in a statement.

7-Eleven did not respond to a request for comment.

Katz, a public school teacher, said his family’s “middle-class problems” weren’t so much about the noise, but rather the upending of their home life.

In addition to their new sleeping arrangements, their 12-year-old daughter can longer do homework in her room, they said.

Rosenblum, a film editor who works from home, said she has to wear headphones to hear what’s happening on her computer screen. Katz said he has started to spend more time in the office grading papers instead of bringing work home.

“Fundamentally, at the end of the day it’s about not being able to settle into one’s own living space, uprooting oneself in their own space to the point that there is no comfort, there is no release,” Katz said.

“It’s like your life gets shifted,” Rosenblum said.

Local elected officials have also expressed support for the tenants affected by the never-ending sounds of 7-Eleven’s refrigeration unit.

“New York City is a noisy town, but we have laws in place to protect tenants like this from having their quiet enjoyment disturbed,” said State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who attended the ECB hearing on Tuesday.

“I think it’s time for 7-Eleven to step up and act like a good neighbor and fix this as soon as possible,” he said.