Hudson Square business group moves against Greenhouse’s landlord

Downtown Express file photo Greenhouse.
Downtown Express file photo

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  After initial silence regarding the crime-plagued Greenhouse nightclub, the Hudson Square business improvement district has decided to act against the interests of one of its own board members by opposing a new liquor license for the 150 Varick St. club.

In an April 29 letter to the State Liquor Authority, the BID (known as the Hudson Square Connection) called on the State Liquor Authority to deny the club’s application to renew its liquor license, which expired on April 30.

“Sadly, Greenhouse has an abysmal record of maintaining a safe, incident-free space and is more known for violent occurrences that mar its reputation,” the letter reads. “Any operation which endangers and severely discomfits our workers, residents and visitors is not acceptable and threatens to compromise all the progress we have made in recent years.”

The letter, signed by Jason Pizer and Ellen Baer, respectively the BID’s chairperson and president, was sent five days after Downtown Express published an article on Greenhouse, featuring a lengthy interview with John Maltz, who is both the nightclub’s landlord and a BID board member.

In that article, Maltz largely dismissed local residents’ and elected officials’ condemnations of Greenhouse, while also defending the club’s new management, which is apparently planning to renovate and rebrand the club after closing it down on April 21 following a spate of brawls and subsequent pressure from police. (No applications for construction permits have yet been filed for the club since the shutdown, according to city records.)

The Hudson Square BID had declined to comment for that article, and at that point had not taken any public action against Maltz’s interests in the Varick St. building.

Also in that article, Maltz claimed that no commercial tenants within Hudson Square had complained to him about Greenhouse. But at least one large business is clearly not happy with the club.

On April 24, one of the district’s most prominent businesses, the Trump Soho hotel, wrote a strongly worded letter to the S.L.A. in which it opposed the club’s application to renew its liquor license.

“The safety of the community, including guests of Trump Soho, has been jeopardized by violence at the club,” wrote Andreas Oberoi, the hotel’s general manager.

Maltz did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Meanwhile, contrary to reports in various other media outlets, which stated that Greenhouse never applied to renew its liquor license before the April 30 expiration, the club’s management is still attempting to renew the license.

William Crowley, a spokesperson for the S.L.A., said in a  May 5 email that Greenhouse did, in fact, submit a “timely” renewal application before the previous one expired.

However, consideration of that application was initially delayed due to the S.L.A.’s ongoing legal proceedings against the club.

The proceedings came to a close on May 6, when the S.L.A. slapped the club with a $10,000 fine for among other things, “failure to conform to [liquor license] application” and “failure to comply [with] health regulations,” according to S.L.A. documents and an emailed statement from Crowley.

The club had previously received multiple fines from the S.L.A. in recent years. It was also notably shut down for 10 days last year, on the order of a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice, as the result of numerous violent incidents, including a 2012 brawl between famed rappers Chris Brown and Drake at Greenhouse’s sister club, W.i.P., which is located in the same building. The clubs had also been shut down briefly in 2012, immediately following the rappers’ altercation.

Based on Crowley’s comments, it appears that the S.L.A. is now in the process of considering the club’s renewal application. But the S.L.A. did not respond to a request for comment after the $10,0000 penalty was handed down on May 6.

Greenhouse’s management could not be reached for comment.

And at least for now, residents around Greenhouse are apparently rejoicing while the club remains closed.

“People who live here are so much happier now, especially the ones living right next to [Greenhouse] on Vandam St.,” said Richard Blodgett, president of the Charlton St. Block Association, which represents residents who have long railed against the club’s noise, violence and alleged drug dealing outside.

“It’s just so much quieter at night,” he added. “We’re still hoping that they never open up again.”

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