’Quin House Reps Pitch Proposal for Background Music on Roofdeck to NABB Licensing and Building Use Committee

Representatives from The ‘Quin House were on hand for the Monday, July 11, virtual monthly meeting of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay Licensing and Building Use Committee to outline their plan to amend the existing good neighbor agreement with the group to allow for ambient background music on the building’s roofdeck.

“We’re not planning to have a rock concert, so to speak, on our roofdeck – it’s strictly for background music,” said Matthias Kiehm, manager of  the private club located at 217 Commonwealth Ave.

The ‘Quin House at 217 Commonwealth Ave.

The roofdeck, which has a capacity of around 65 individuals, is currently open to members, seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., with food-and-drink service offered there Tuesday through Saturday from 2 to 10 p.m. Last call on the roofdeck is at 9:30 p.m., and by 10:30 p.m. each night, everyone, including staff, must vacate the area, said Kiehm.

For a trial period of two or three months, Kiehm proposed that the background music could be played on the roofdeck between the hours of noon and 10 p.m. daily to gauge the noise impact on neighbors. But Kiehm added he isn’t sure how long it would take to install the sound system there, so, he said, the proposed trial period might extend into the next outdoor season.

Committee member Rebecca Brooks said she think a pilot would be the “ideal” way to test the applicant’s proposal. Another committee member, Ellen Rooney, objected to the proposed trial period, however, because, she said, finalizing the good neighbor agreement with the applicant had been a “painstaking” process, which came with no provision for background music on the roofdeck.

Monitoring devices would be placed on the east and west sides of the roof to track the noise levels, said Kiehm, while the volume of the music would be controlled via the Savant iPhone app.

Moreover, The ‘Quin House is already monitoring its noise levels, said Kiehm, and they would share the reports it receives each Monday with the Licensing and Building Use Committee to ensure that the decibel levels are not being exceeded. “And if it is being exceeded, it’s up to us to manage it better,” he added.

Lesley Delaney Hawkins, an attorney for the applicant, said The ‘Quin House is solely seeking a license to play recorded background music on the roofdeck, which wouldn’t  apply to live performances or to deejays. (The license would apply to televisions, however – something, she said, that the applicant has no interest in pursuing for the roofdeck.)

Despite the applicant’s assurances that they would closely monitor noise levels, Elliott Laffer, chair of NABB’s board of directors, expressed concern that the background music would still reach the ears of neighbors.

“The real goal is the person across the alley…or on either side with the windows open doesn’t hear the music – that’s the goal,” said Laffer. “On a day like today, with their windows open, my suspicion is that they’d rather not hear music, which is why it was prohibited to begin with.”

Hawkins responded that the applicant is “very confident” they can effectively mitigate any potential noise impact if they “invest in the right [sound] engineering.”

In another matter, the owner of Union Park Pizza came before the commission to outline his plan to relocate the business to 244 Newbury St. from its current home at 1405 Washington St. in the South End.

Business owner Joe Sylva said their lease is up on their current space, and the building is slated for redevelopment, so Union Square Pizza hopes to move to Newbury Street in October.

Wichit Sandwich currently operates in the proposed Newbury Street space, said Sylva, so Union Park Pizza would need to do minimal work there, save for some painting and moving in a gas pizza oven, which will vent directly into the roof. “It would be almost a turnkey transition,” said Sylva, adding that the current capacity of 18 seats inside and 30 seats outside would remain the same.

Union Street Pizza’s existing beer-and-wine license would be transferred to the proposed Newbury Street location, which has proposed daily operating hours of 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., according to Sylva.

When Sylva broached the subject of extending the closing time past 11 p.m. due to the limited late-night food options on Newbury Street, Laffer of NABB responded this is by design, and that the committee likely wouldn’t embrace the idea of a late closing time for the business.

Sylva said the proposed late closing time isn’t a “sticking point” for the pizzeria’s plan to relocate to Newbury Street and added that the South End store now closes at 9 p.m.

Regarding trash removal, Sylva said it would be professionally hauled away each day, and that the business would have its own dedicated dumpster.

Conrad Armstrong, committee chair, told Sylva he would let him know of the committee’s determination on his application (i.e. voting to oppose or not oppose it) by early the following week.

Representatives for Raffles Residences Hotel at 40 Trinity Place were also on hand for the meeting to discuss their application for a liquor license.

The applicant is seeking a single liquor license to cover the six food venues in the hotel, including a first-floor coffee shop; the primary restaurant located primarily on the second floor, as well as on the first floor; the 17th-floor sky lobby with a fine dining restaurant with around 20 tables, a long bar, and connected outdoor terrace bar; a speakeasy-style establishment on the 18th floor with capacity for around 50 patrons; and the 19th floor ballroom, which would be used for weddings and other functions, said Jordan Warshaw, the developer.

The requested liquor license would allow for service up until 2 a.m. “or as late as Boston will allow,” said Warsaw. “We don’t know if we’ll use it, but we want the flexibility that the liquor license allows, especially for the speakeasy,” he added.

Work on the interior is expected to wrap up within the next 10 months, added Warshaw, and the hotel should open in the second quarter of next year. “One of the last steps is to apply for a liquor license,” he said.

Armstrong told the applicant he would notify them of the committee’s determination on their application by the end of last week or early this week.

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