Tribeca Residents Hope To Turn Down The Volume On Karaoke

| 22 Oct 2014 | 01:02

Tribeca Actions spoke louder than words at a recent Community Board 1 meeting, where residents shared sour notes on an impending karaoke bar hoping to secure a liquor license. At last Wednesday’s overflowing committee meeting, Tribeca residents firmly expressed their qualms regarding the ongoing restaurant construction at 67 Murray Street. Committee members previously heard a proposal for the new Korean karaoke fusion restaurant Gunbae to replace a vacancy on Murray Street. During the last gathering in September, restaurant co-owner Andy Lau expressed desires to provide seven karaoke rooms and a full bar until 3 a.m., but his plans were quickly shot down by nearby tenants. Due to the overwhelming opposition, Gunbae’s management group agreed to hire a soundproofing professional, reduce their hours and provide an updated proposal at the next meeting. When the time came though, the team had almost nothing substantial to mark their progress since their last presentation. Gunbae’s team enlisted help from sound technician Thomas Kaytt with Cerami & Associates who introduced several solutions to noise issues, such as constructing isolated wall frames to trap sound vibrations before they made their way to neighboring buildings. Residents were not quite satisfied, however. As well as the problems involving noise levels, neighbors to the restaurant space voiced their contempt for exhaust fumes that were escaping the restaurant and travelling into their open windows. Stan Sandberg, resident of adjacent 69 Murray Street said, “I was at the first meeting, and in addition to the sound issues, which we seem to be addressing here, there was also question of the proper exhaust for the restaurant.” He added that he and others were under the impression that the restaurant team had agreed to present a resolution before being granted a license. Sandberg and other residents explained that the exhaust from Gunbae’s chimney was disturbing their home lives and argued that the height of the pipe was not up to code. There was some confusion between the groups on the issue of whether or not Gunbae was legally required to move their vent. Residents of 69 Murray Street claimed that the pipe was required by code to be eight feet above the neighboring space, but one member of the restaurant’s team explained that that is only applicable when the vent is ten feet or closer to the building. Seeing that the restaurant was not obligated by code to relocate their vent, Committee Chair Peter Braus suggested the residents take up their issues with the restaurant separately and devise a solution on their own time. Frustrations from the residents were mirrored by committee members when Gunbae’s management team failed to present up-to-date plans for their restaurant. The committee was uneasy about approving the application after only being informed verbally of the restaurant team’s plans to decrease the number of karaoke rooms as well as carry out an array of alterations to the building’s foundation. “In this case we are being told point-blank that there are changes to the plans that you presented previously, so it is very hard for us to say categorically that we approve this license without knowing what your plans look like,” Braus explained to the team. “I think I as the chair, and the rest of the committee is uncomfortable voting on an application without knowing what the floor plans are.” While Gunbae’s management did make the “good faith effort” that their attorney Wilfred Romano promised when it came to employing a sound technician, board members expressed additional concerns regarding the duration of his involvement. “They hired one of the two or three best sound companies in the city,” board member Bruce Ehrmann commented. “But I am wondering what their contract is.” Without physical plans for building construction or a contract guaranteeing Kaytt’s continued participation in the soundproofing process, Braus worried that the restaurant would not follow through with their claims. “It sounds like you know your business,” Braus said to the Gunabe team. “But we’ve certainly had instances where people come in and brought soundproofing experts in, only for us to found out later that that work was never done.” Faced with the quandary of not being provided with detailed plans for construction, but not wanting to give the restaurant the opportunity to take their proposal straight to the State Liquor Authority, committee members approved Gunbae’s liquor license in a 6-2 vote — with a catch. “The risk we always run is that if you fail to vote on something, at some point the applicant can just go to the SLA and try their luck,” explained Braus. “And then, if they get their license, they would get their 4 a.m. license with no restrictions.” To prevent Gunbae from going to the SLA without recommendations from the community, the board voted in approval of their time-restricted liquor license, but only on the grounds that the restaurant team would return to CB1’s full-body meeting on October 28 with an updated and explicit proposal.