CB3 Acrimoniously Approves ‘Local 138’ Move; Ludlow House Gets Go-Ahead for Libation-Killer
The room was packed and distaste for both landlord Michael Shah and Libation ran high. For the SLA subcommittee of Community Board 3, the decision-making became quite nuanced.
Local 138, 138 Ludlow Street
Local 138 has been at its namesake address for nearly two decades, and is beloved by many in the neighborhood. Its current owner, John Cutillo, took over operations back in 2011, several years after opening Iggy’s just down the block.
He and his employees face quite a predicament in the face of Shah’s $19 million acquisition of the property in January. The lease to the current space expires in eight months. Rather than allowing the bar to remove its license to the store next door – a complete downsize to 625 square-feet – the landlord required the owner to submit an application for a new license as stipulation for granting a lease. A new license for an unlicensed location in a saturated area. The current license would be surrendered and held in safe-keeping by the state. (Shah has reportedly already approached CB3 regarding his intentions for the current Local 138 spot.)
It’s a brutal play, and Cutillo is being strong-armed. He admitted as much. “A distasteful situation,” as chair Alex Militano also quipped.
Cutillo and his employees were desperate to stay – all were in attendance – and the committee was essentially forced into its approval of a new 4am license in Hell Square.
Ludlow House, 137 Ludlow Street
The new Ludlow House garden concept also proved unique.
Here, the Soho House overlords held out the removal of fourteen-year-old Libation as reason for approval of its new liquor license.
As previously mentioned, the club would close, the building (purportedly owned in part by Libation) by would be destroyed, and replaced with a two-story construction. The new facility would be an appendage of sorts, offering a ground-floor restaurant and yard use beneath a retractable roof. Plans call for no stand-up bar on the first level and basement recording studio.
The main discussion point was approving an outdoor use in such a saturated block, albeit through the lens of a current bad actor in Libation.
In the end, CB3 approved the application, further sweetened by Soho House concession to close the retractable roof at 10pm all days.
Of note was support from the Lower East Side Dwellers, based on the results of its homegrown email study among the community.