Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Teflon Le Souk?

Embattled East Village nightclub Le Souk had its liquor license pulled last week, just months after reopening amid a drawn-out battle with the State Liquor Authority and the Avenue B hotspot’s sleepless neighbors.

According to the S.L.A., the State Court of Appeals upheld the authority’s determination that overcrowding occurred at the hookah bar near E. Fourth St., requiring a cancellation of the club’s liquor license.

Le Souk had been cited for multiple violations in a January 2007 enforcement sweep of the North African-themed nightspot, resulting in the March 2008 cancellation. But that decision was overturned after the owners won an appeal this May in State Supreme Court, which found that evidence of overcrowding was based on an inaccurate “guesstimate” and that it was outside the S.L.A.’s purview to make such a determination.

“The Court of Appeals correctly found that the S.L.A. must have the authority to act when bars break local laws,” said Dennis Rosen, the authority’s chairperson. “Bars that allow overcrowding or fail in their basic duty to adequately supervise their premises are often just setting the stage for more serious violations to occur. The court’s decision [on Oct. 22] was essential for the S.L.A.’s continuing efforts to ensure public safety at licensed establishments.”

Just last week at a meeting of Community Board 3, representatives of the cacophonous club squared off with angry residents claiming that noise, traffic and other negative quality-of-life impacts caused by Le Souk had made life in the area “intolerable.”

Susan Stetzer, Board 3’s district manager, said that despite the recent action, the club was up and running this past weekend.

“People that live in the area were celebrating the news, and by Sunday night they were complaining to the community board,” she said.

The S.L.A. only has the power to confiscate liquor licenses and can’t actually close the location. According to Stetzer, police at the East Village’s Ninth Precinct had not been contacted about the ruling or asked to take any action.

“I must say, I’m a little frustrated,” she added, recalling that after Le Souk’s first cancellation, the club continued to operate for eight months. “It is really difficult to get any information on what the S.L.A. is doing about this.”

Ciao, High Line

A leader in the movement to save the High Line and convert it into an elevated “park in the sky” will spend the next ninth months in Italy exploring the revitalization of urban spaces in that country’s historic capital city.

Robert Hammond, co-founder of the nonprofit Friends of the High Line — which worked with the city to preserve and redevelop the former freight railway as public space — won the American Academy of Rome’s 113th annual Prize Competition to study landscape architecture on the Tiber River.

According to Hammond’s proposal on the academy’s Web site, he plans to study Rome’s main waterway and how it contributes to the city’s urban landscape.

“In many ways this will be a continuation of my work on the High Line in New York City over the past decade,” he said. “The goal of this project is not to produce a concrete plan for the riverfront, but rather to spark greater creative activity, awareness and enthusiasm, under the light of which this largely forgotten urban space may begin to rediscover itself.”

The West Village resident, who received the prize in the spring and will be staying in Rome through the end of next July, said he also plans to work on his art while living there.

Each year, the Rome prize is awarded to 30 individuals through a national competition, with many coming from backgrounds in architecture, design, historic preservation, literature, music and scholarly studies.

N.Y.U. Downtown double

New York University Medical Center recently inked a new lease to double its current square footage in the Financial District, according to reports.

N.Y.U. signed on for an additional 35,000 square feet at 14 Wall St. in Lower Manhattan, taking over the entire ninth floor of the building after leasing the 10th floor for the past year.

According to the New York Post, asking rent was in the high $30s per square foot, and the deal brings the building’s occupancy to 96 percent.

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