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Charlie Bird Restaurateur Reneged on Agreement With Neighbors, Tenants Say

 Chef Ryan Hardy (center, pictured with Martha Stewart), is taking his expertise from his SoHo restaurant Charlie Bird and opening an as-yet-unnamed eatery on Kenmare Street in Nolita.
Chef Ryan Hardy (center, pictured with Martha Stewart), is taking his expertise from his SoHo restaurant Charlie Bird and opening an as-yet-unnamed eatery on Kenmare Street in Nolita.
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Composite: Facebook/Toby's Public House and Charlie Bird

NOLITA — A trendy SoHo chef is once again at loggerheads with the tenants in his new Kenmare Street building, emails show.

Chef Ryan Hardy, whose two-year-old restaurant Charlie Bird is thriving on King Street, is opening a new venture at 86 Kenmare St., where Toby's Public House stood until its recent closure.

The 86 Kenmare Tenants Association was initially wary of Hardy's plan after as many as six different restaurants and clubs have come and gone from the space below their apartment building over the past eight years.

Three hours of negotiations at June 9's  Community Board 2's liquor license committee meeting apparently yielded an agreement between Hardy and the tenants where he would consent to their requests on soundproofing, hours of operation, and his demolition schedule for the restaurant's renovation, and other issues, on his State Liquor Authority application.

But emails between attorneys for Hardy and the residents obtained by DNAinfo New York show the June 9 agreement is in doubt, with the tenants' lawyer accusing the restaurateur of reneging on his promises to the board, and Hardy's lawyer declaring he will simply go around the community board if he can't win their approval.

"If [Hardy] does not receive Community Board approval, they intend to apply through the State and most, if not all, of the concessions will no longer be applicable," Hardy's lawyer, Michael Morici, Jr., wrote to the tenants' attorney. "I sincerely believe it is in the best interests for the Tenants Association to consent to and recommend [Hardy's] submission as attached."

Morici then sent a list of stipulations, which tenants say did not contain all the conditions that Hardy apparently agreed to at the meeting, to committee co-chair Carter Booth, asserting that the tenants had agreed to them, emails show.

In a letter to Booth, the tenants' lawyer, Robin LoGuidice, asserted that the attached document had removed several of the items that Hardy agreed to at the meeting, including promises to not do construction on the weekends, and to use specific soundproofing materials.

"We are unhappy with Mr. Morici, who is an attorney, making representations that if we do not agree with [Hardy's] 'stipulations,' that [Hardy] will bypass the Community Board, go directly to the state, and the 'concessions' will no longer be available," LoGuidice wrote, including with her letter the emails between her and Morici.

Morici and Hardy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Though numerous tenants of 86 Kenmare St. spoke at the public meeting last week, they refused to speak on the record when reached for comment regarding the negotiations with Hardy, saying they feared retaliation from their landlord if they publicly opposed his business deal.

But they expressed disappointment with the process, and frustration that Hardy might succeed in applying to the SLA without the approval of the community board.

“Why do we have a community board if none of it matters?" asked one tenant. "If they can just go to the SLA and bypass us altogether?"

Community Board 2 will vote on the application at its full board meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Scholastic Building at 557 Broadway.