Last November, the Pizza Shop, which was next to Niagara on Avenue A and Seventh Street, closed due to high rents. Thereafter, people going to Cabin Down Below, the not-so-secret speakeasy accessed through the Pizza Shop, had to enter instead on East Seventh Street, descend the metal staircase in the alley and walk through the smoking patio into the bar. If you're new to all this, Cabin Down Below is big with the bold-faced name set (Drew Barrymore!) and has become a post-Standard Hotel destination...
Which brings us to our current story. This switch in entrances has made one East Village family's life miserable. The resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told me his story... on how he has lived in this location for 13-plus years with his wife...and hasn't really slept the last four of those months.
"We love our neighborhood. We love the park ... the restaurants ... our bodegas ... and all of the other things that we enjoy ... It is our home.
"But we have encountered a problem that has seriously affected our happiness and enjoyment of living where we do. It is a place called Cabin Down Below. We haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months.
"We live directly to the east of Niagara ... our bedroom/bathroom wall is adjacent to the 'secret' stairs that lead to Cabin Down Below. This steel egress stairs are bolted directly to our building's wall. Basically, our headboard (and my kid's bed) is directly opposite this stair. So from 11:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. (and even 6:30 a.m. on Saturdays) all that we hear every 30 seconds are people trudging up and down these stairs. Imagine high heels drunkenly plodding up and down these stairs, about 6 to 8 inches away from your head. Trust me -- turning on our two white noise makers, our fans, our AC ... ear plugs, iPods... NOTHING can drown out the sound of footsteps on steel stairs."
"We can't sleep at night. Simple as that."
"And Niagara/Cabin Down Below didn’t use these stairs (except on rare occasions) until the Pizza Shop closed. After 13 years, we have grown accustomed to the live bands, people yelling outside our windows, cigarette smoke pouring in our windows. We used to go out and make noise too, so we have shrugged all that off.
"But these stairs? It's a nightmare."
The resident has done the usual things in these situations...call 311, call the bar to complain, etc. Nothing has worked to date.
"If the owner would simply re-open the Avenue A 'secret' entrance to the Cabin, that would solve our problems. I don't want to kill their business. I am all for people having a good time. Smoke, drink, hook up -- do what you want. But when it keeps up me, my wife and my kid every night of the week, that is where I draw the line.
"We don't want to move to the suburbs. We want to raise our kid [in this neighborhood].
Since our initial exchange, the resident heard back from an owner of Niagara.
"I hope I wasn't being naive, but she sounded very concerned about the situation and promised to do something about it 'very soon.' ... she plans to replace the current steel stair treads with concrete treads. The stairs will be still be rigidly connected to our building's wall, but it should help. And if it doesn't....then we will go from there. In the meantime ... we will suffer until she makes the fix..."