Construction Dust-Up Leaves Beer Hall’s Neighbor Out of House and Home

photoEdna Ishayik 265-267 Bowery.

A beer hall bound for 265-276 Bowery has become involved in a dust-up that could hurt its chances of snagging a liquor license.

Last Wednesday, Vanessa Solomon was working in her loft apartment on the second floor of the building between Stanton and Houston Streets when a cloud of brown dust came up from the storefront space where the Paulaner Brauhaus plans to open. Her floors, bed, clothes, and papers were covered in dust, she said. She and her live-in partner, Timothy Davis, spent the rest of the day scrambling to find a clean place for their five school-aged children to sleep that night.

“It looked like Pompeii,” Mr. Davis told The Local.

It was only the latest disruption for Ms. Solomon, who, after 17 years in the loft, had already started looking for a new home in Brooklyn. A week before the dust plume struck, her landlord, Craig Murray, called to tell her that her month-to-month lease would end on Sept. 1 due to construction. “The same day,” said Mr. Davis, “demolition started downstairs without any notice to us and without any precautions although Tony Morali, the architect, had promised repeatedly that he would first put in a dust barrier and soundproofing.”

After dust began coming up from the first floor, Paulaner project representatives sent a cleaning service. But that was nothing compared to the carpet of brown powder that rose up July 25.

According to Rudolf Tauscher, an operator of the beer hall, that incident occurred during pre-construction safety checks, after ceiling panels were removed to reveal an “unsafe condition”: cracked wooden planks and beams. “We were trying to establish what needed to be corrected when dust went upward and when a hostile tenant informed the DOB,” he said.

The buildings department issued a stop work order on July 26, citing construction without a permit.

At last month’s liquor licensing committee meeting, neighbors complained to members of Community Board 3 that they hadn’t been given enough time to review the beer hall’s plans for noise, safety, and traffic. The board eventually voted to support a liquor license at the location, provided precautions were taken to minimize loud noise and inconvenience caused by the renovations.

But after Susan Stetzer, the board’s district manager, paid a visit to the powder-coated apartment, the board reversed its conditional approval and sent the State Liquor Authority a letter recommending denial of the license.

In the meantime, Mr. Davis and Ms. Solomon and their children are unable to return to their home and have been bouncing from friends’ apartments to hotel rooms. The family is still waiting for the results of a city health inspector’s tests for lead and other contaminants.

Mr. Tauscher said that he had offered $2,000 for deep cleaning and $3,000 to go toward ten nights of hotel accommodations. But Mr. Davis said the offer hadn’t yet been confirmed by Mr. Tauscher’s lawyer, and called it inadequate. “The offer itself is ridiculous and doesn’t begin to cover cost of housing and feeding a family of seven,” he said.

The irony, Mr. Davis said, is that he did not originally oppose the project: he only wanted to make sure certain precautions were in place before it went forward. “We were the ones seeing if we could work something out,” he said.

Mr. Davis said he expected to hear back from the health department tomorrow. We’ll let you know how the dust settles.