Balazs Pushes Standard Facelift, Assures Neighbors ‘We Hate Weddings’

IMG_3198Stephen Rex Brown Andre Balazs explains his plans for the remodeled Standard East Village.

The famed hotelier Andre Balazs pitched his plans for the remodeled Standard East Village to East Fifth Street residents on Thursday night, explaining that the Cooper Square Hotel’s layout on the bottom two floors was a key factor in its bankruptcy.

The owner of the recently renamed 21-story hotel intends to reorient the main floors to the west by creating an outdoor dining area that faces the Bowery, as well as a new lobby.

“The hotel failed,” said Mr. Balazs. “We bought it from bankruptcy. One reason was that the public spaces didn’t work.”

The rearrangement would also, he added, reduce the noise that angered neighbors, some of whom have windows that abut the hotel. The bar and restaurant that was once in the back of the hotel on the second floor would be converted into a private room for hotel guests. “The number-one thing we thought was silly and stupid was to create an eating and drinking establishment on the second floor,” Mr. Balazs said.

Cooper Square HotelFrancisco Daum The Standard East Village.

Still, some of the roughly 25 members of the East Fifth Street block association were concerned that the newly private room would lead to all-night private parties, rather than public ones. “It’s a private party room,” said Carrie Schneider, one of the locals living closest to the rear terrace. “It was like having stadium-quality sound right outside of your window [in the past].”

But other locals admitted that Mr. Balazs lived up to his reputation as a smooth businessman, and that the previous owner’s mismanagement of the hotel — both financially and in terms of community relations — seemed to be a thing of the past. “The sad thing is we’ll now be dealing with a successful business,” said Stuart Zamsky, an officer of the block association. “We benefited from the fact that it wasn’t successful before.”

The revised layout calls for an open kitchen that will occupy what is currently the Trilby, toward the front of the hotel. The space, for now dubbed a “Cafe on the Bowery,” will have 63 seats outdoors and 54 indoors and will extend its outdoor hours to 2 a.m.

The area now enclosed by a fence at the corner of East Fifth Street, over which a Shepard Fairey mural once presided, will have a roof built over it and serve as a lobby. This new structure would be made of recycled brick, giving it more “neighborhood charm,” according to Mr. Balazs.

The restaurant garden towards the rear of the hotel would be open longer – from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. –  and be covered by a retractable roof to make noise “undetectable.” Mr. Balazs said he hoped it would become a two- or three-star restaurant.

The block association planned to define its expectations regarding the changes and then forward them to the Community Board 3 SLA committee, which will issue an advisory opinion on Monday regarding the changes to the hotel.

Mr. Balazs repeated several times that boisterous crowds weren’t good business for him, either. In fact, when one local brought up a private tour bus that was loading hotel guests only minutes before the meeting, Mr. Balazs reprimanded the general manager of the Standard East Village, Evan Altman, who was in attendance. “He shouldn’t have booked that group. That’s not the clientele we want,” said Mr. Balazs. “We hate weddings, we hate bat mitzvahs. We don’t like the feeling when one monolithic group distorts what should be a residential-type place.”