Thompson LES Hotel Fined For Illegal Tents On Roof

image(6)Kelsey Kudak

The rooftop tents at the Thompson LES may soon be coming down — but not because of warmer weather.

A judge has smacked a $300 fine on the hotel for working without a permit. Now it must remove three outdoor tents or apply for a proper permit to keep them.

In January, neighbors of the hotel complained to the Department of Buildings that tents erected as a storage area were being used as an outdoor nightclub. A building inspector ruled the tents on the hotel’s second-story roof were illegal, and the matter went before a judge who, on March 20, sided with the inspector.

The hotel’s rooftop lounge, Above Allen, has been a source of controversy since 2009, when a dozen or so neighbors flooded a Community 3 board meeting to voice concerns about late-night noise as well as added traffic and pedestrian congestion around the hotel. At the time, a hotel manager vowed to take the neighbors’ concerns into account.

Since then, neighborhood group LES Dwellers has taken a stake in the case, and various residents from Orchard Street, Houston Street and Stanton Street have asked the organization for help and guidance. Diem Boyd, founder of LES Dwellers, said that though the hotel has taken measures to cut down on the noise coming from the club in the past, it has continued to be a problem during weekends and summer nights, with noisy parties often continuing until 4 a.m.

image(7)Kelsey Kudak

“It was residents’ due diligence and concern for the neighborhood that prompted the DOB investigation and subsequent hearing,” said Ms. Boyd of the January complaint about the rooftop tent.

“The tents are a symptom of a larger problem, which is the lack of respect for the community who’s quality of life is under assault by them on a regular basis, and what appears to be a disdain for the laws and regulations laid out in the NYC noise code, the DOB, the SLA, and the FDNY,” said Ms. Boyd, who said the hotel’s management had failed to address past complaints.

Ms. Boyd admitted that removal of the tents wouldn’t stop the noise, but said it would be “a first step to get [the hotel] to adhere to the law and the concerns of every single resident within ear shot of the hotel.” Though the LES Dwellers and its associated neighbors have yet to file any formal nose complaints with the city, Ms. Boyd said they are prepared to do so in the future. Additionally, they aim to schedule a community meeting with the hotel to address the issue of noise.

As of today, the rooftop tents are still standing. According to the Department of Buildings website, the hotel has 30 days to appeal the court’s decision, or pay the required fine and take the tents down. It could also apply for a proper permit to keep them on the roof. So far, the Environmental Control Board reports no appeal has been filed.

The Thompson LES was unable to be reached for comment on this story.