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Pod Hotel Will Turn Williamsburg into Open-Air Toilet, Neighbors Say

 Jane Hotel operators want to open 369 person rooftop bar as part of the Pod Hotel opening this summer.
Jane Hotel operators want to open 369 person rooftop bar as part of the Pod Hotel opening this summer.
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Courtesy of the Pod Hotel

WILLIAMSBURG — Mojito-swilling rooftop partiers will turn the area around Metropolitan and Driggs avenues into an open-air toilet if a troubled boutique hotel chain get its way, residents in the heart of the hipster neighborhood charge.

Hoteliers Richard Born and Ira Drukier are pushing to open the Pod Hotel's first Brooklyn location this July at that intersection, featuring a modular structure entirely built in Poland and shipped to Williamsburg for assembly.

The Pod Brooklyn hotel will feature courtyards, glass walkways, living walls, private event space and rooms that start at $120 and — much to the the chagrin of nearby residents — a 369-person rooftop bar, if the pending application is approved by the state.

"[It's a] fifth floor, open-air bar, where noise from 369 people will emanate [through] a residential neighborhood," said Cindy Wright, 63, who's lived in Williamsburg since 1985 and collected more than 360 signatures from nearby neighbors opposed to the Pod Hotel's rooftop bar. "There will be no escaping it."

Others worried the open-air bar run by Born would attract the type of rooftop boozers not afraid to relieve themselves in the streets, they warned at an April 19 community board meeting.

"Mr. Born's hotels have long and troublesome histories.. with noise, traffic and unruly behavior by their customers," said Thomas Hameline, a resident of nearby Grand Street, who cited a 2013 New York Post article where neighbors of the Pod 39 Hotel in Murray Hill complained bar-goers turned "the sidewalk into a toilet."

"They smoke, drink and spit. They pee, sometimes they even...whatever," he said.

In 2014, a man committed suicide by throwing himself off the roof of the Pod 39 Hotel in Murray Hill. And in 2016, Pod 39 was fined by the SLA for two sales to minors, records show. 

Neighbors of the Jane Hotel in the West Village — which has the same owners — also described similar issues there, calling the venue's living room a "living hell" in a 2009 article in The Villager.

The issues persist eight years later, according to an April 5 letter from Jane Street Block Association Chair Kate Bostock to Williamsburg residents. The hotel had "failed to ameliorate residents' concerns on a broad range of problems... including traffic, noise and crime."

"The hotel cannot handle the current disturbances made by patrons much less add to them," she wrote.

In fact, an earlier attempt by the Pod Brooklyn to score a liquor license was automatically rejected by the State Liquor Authority in March of 2016 because of unresolved issues with Born's liquor license at the Jane Hotel, SLA spokesman William Crowley said.

The Jane Hotel had to pay a $7,000 fine for a variety of building code, health and safety violations, he said. The SLA also had a report of an assault at the Jane Hotel from 2015, Crowley said, though no further information was available about that incident.

Despite concerns at other of Born's hotels in Manhattan, the community board voted to support the hotel's application in an October 2016 letter, according to the SLA.

On May 4, the SLA will host a hearing about the application.

A spokeswoman for the hotel did not return a request for comment immediately.