Residents, police, tony venues oppose Theater District club's bid to add nearly 500 more patrons a night

BPD brass, managers of the Wang Theater, the Charles Playhouse and the W Hotel and elderly residents of a Tremont Street building turned out en masse at a licensing hearing this morning to oppose Royale's request to increase its capacity from 770 to 1220, saying the area has enough trouble already with the club goers it has now.

Royale argues the increase would actually make the neighborhood safer because the concerts the new capacity would allow would get out an hour earlier than the current 2 a.m. closing time.

But police Superintentendent William Evans and District A-1 Capt. Thomas Lee said the Theater District is already at its bursting point when it comes to trouble. Lee said the district, which can have up to 7,000 club goers on a busy night, has had three murders this year and other outbursts of violence. When fights break out, they said, police commanders sometimes have to call in officers from other parts of the city to help quell the trouble.

Police devote "significant resources down there, at significant cost," Evans told city Licensing Chairwoman Patricia Malone.

More specifically, Lee said, Royale has had 17 violations this year, from assault and battery to a doorman soliciting oral sex. It's also $17,341 behind in its overtime payments for detail officers, he said.

Residents of an elderly-housing complex next door to the club complained they lose sleep from loud patrons at all hours of the night, have to breathe in their cigarette smoke and just generally live in fear of the drunken people who spill out of the club at 2 a.m.

Josiah Spaulding, chairman of the Citi Center Performing Arts Center, said he is tired of public-safety problems in the Theater District related to the clubs and said Royale has boasted in industry publications of concerts having well over 1,000 attendees - way more than allowed under its current license.

Royale General Manager Brig Dauber and his lawyer, Edward Larson, said the increase in capacity would actually make the Theater District safer, because it would let them shift away from troublesome dance nights on Fridays to concerts that would get out at 1 a.m. instead of 2. They added they would put on extra security and are workng with the BRA on a long-range plan to beautify Tremont Street, possibly by planting trees.

But when Larson attempted to also argue the net effect of the increase would be further muted by what he said was the impending shutdown of the Encore and Caprice lounges, in the same building, licensing Chairwoman Patricia Malone said not so fast there, because the lounges have different owners and there's no guarantee their landlord won't just find new lounges to replace them with.

Malone questioned whether Royale patrons would simply disperse at 1 a.m. and said they might just hang out in the area, adding to the general 2 a.m. crush. Dauber said his experience is that concert goers come in just for the concert and leave immediately after.

Royale agreed to formally ask Malone to defer any action on its request until at least after Dauber meets with the Midtown Park Plaza Neighborhood Association on Sept. 12. Turns out Royale didn't let the association know about its request - and today's hearing - until Aug. 26, and never notified neighborhood groups in Chinatown and Bay Village, which Malone found troubling. Although not a legal requirement, city officials generally want people seeking license changes to meet with neighborhood groups first.

Mayor Menino and City Councilor Bill Linehan sent representatives to today's hearing to say they are opposed to increasing the club's allowable capacity.

Dauber said Royale "absolutely, absolutely" did a good job turning Royale around since 2007, when it was known as the Roxy and Malone cuts its capacity from 1300 to 775 due to ongoing problems. He said it's unfair to blame Royale for issues caused by six or seven other venues in the area - and said the two main parking garages in the area need to step it up when it comes to security.

Lawson disputed Spaulding's claims, saying that while promoters might have advertised events having more than 1,000 patrons, Royale itself never did. Malone said that on repeated inspections, police have never found the club over capacity.

Dauber said that if the club is delinquent in its overtime payments to police, it's because it's part of a consortium of Theater District clubs that share some detail costs and that the consortium might be behind in its payments and the amount cited by Lee was Royale's share. Royale, he said, is not shirking its payments.

But Lee, noting the 16 violations issues to the club this year, disagreed. "I dispute that the club has been troublefree."

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Comments

7000?

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7000 club goers?

Is there some super secret club that no one knows about that exists in the area with that can hold like 5000 people?

Sounds like the Captain may be a little skewed with his numbers.....

He said "district" not

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He said "district" not specifically one club. He was referencing the many venues that occupy that area... Who actually goes out there for shows anyways? It always seems to have a heavy population of club-rats and meat-heads.

You mean the district of

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You mean the district of Boston? As a whole? Even if you take into account HOB, which is miles away, 7000 is a push. He is skewing the number, 7000 is not realistic. It's not even 1500 people on Tremont St at any given time.

Theater District

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I'm assuming he means the theater district. 7000 may be a little bit of a stretch but it's not that much of a stretch if you count up all the capacities of the theater district clubs and bars.

Yep

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He was referring specifically to the Theater District, under the jurisdiction of A-1, not anywhere else in the city (such as Fenway, whic would be, I think, D-4).

"and just generally live in

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"and just generally live in fear of the drunken people who spill out of the club at 2 a.m."

Then allow a later closing time.

Instead of 80%+ of capacity being forced to leave at 2am...

Being open until 3:30am would see a better spread.

Example.

Current % of patrons leaving (estimated)

Before 1am: 5%
Between 1-130: 5%
Between 130-2am: 10%
At 2am exactly: 80%

With later closing time:
Before 1am: 5%
Between 1-130: 5%
Between 130-2am: 10%
Between 2-2:30am: 15%
Between 230-3am: 15%
Between 3-330am: 20%
At 3:30am exactly: only 30% is left!

Right

Because no one will want to stay until 3:30am. If a bar closes at 1:00am, then people will mostly pour out at close to 1:00am. Close at mid-night, most people will decide to leave around then. Two examples: people leaving shopping malls, and popular restaurants.

Where did your numbers even come from?

The numbers suggest that

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The numbers suggest that people will trickle out over a longer period of time.

What you are saying is that if the closing time is 6am, 100% of people will "pour" out at 6am. You are Just wrong
In your theory. A percentage of people will leave at 1:00,1:15,1:30,1:45,2:00,2:15,2:30,2:45,3:00. This would certainly solve some of the traffic, cab and parking lot congestion problems.

The later closing times should be given a chance. If it is successful great, if not go back to the old times.

Later closing times have been successful in some other city's, Boston should try it, maybe they would be successful

i think the important factor

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i think the important factor is that the bars continue to stop serving at 2am, even though the doors can be open an hour or so later. people will get bored and filter out on their own. a few bars in providence tried this recently, and it really helped... and the added bonus of not spilling out hundreds of drunk people onto the streets all at once was nice too.

"The numbers"?

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Yes, the numbers that you just manufactured wholesale definitely support the point you're trying to make. Meanwhile, the rest of us, who have been at bars and/or clubs at closing time, have noticed that people mostly leave when they're kicked out. Once you're out past the time that the T runs, there's not a whole lot of difference between staying out until 2 or 3:30 AM. Thus the exodus at closing time.

Have "the rest of us" ever

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Have "the rest of us" ever gone 10 miles out of Boston? People leave when theyre kicked out because closing time is earlier than what most people would deem the end of the night.

try visiting a city with no closing time, or 4-5am. Guess what, most bars and clubs are pretty damn empty by the time they close.

The numbers, as I clearly

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The numbers, as I clearly stated, are made up.

But your reading isnt so great because I never said "nobody" would stay until 3:30am, I said 30% would.

If bars closed at 1am, id estimate 100% of capacity would go home at that time.

Generally, people like to leave places when they feel like it. People dont always stay as late as possible. Feet hurt, having a bad time, headache, found someone to go home with etc etc etc. For some people that 1am, for some 2, for some 3.

If the bars stayed open until 7am, do you really think 80%+ would pour out at that time?

"Two examples: people leaving shopping malls, and popular restaurants."

Huh?

Many shopping malls are ghost towns by the time closing time hits, aside from the holidays.

Try this: Find a supermarket that closes at midnight. Are there hoards waiting to get kicked out...? No, its a ton less than at 8pm.

Try the Stop and Shop at Southbay sometime

It's no ghost town come closing time. I've seen multiple lines at registers at close to closing time there. This is usually around the time some booming voice comes over the PA telling everyone to make their final decisions.

Seattle did a whole study on this very topic. Their mayor proposed later closing times, staggered bar closings, and let the residents decide. The plan got shot down:
http://www.king5.com/news/cities/seattle/Seattle-e...

The study has many of the same concerns: patrons flooding streets, fear, violence, transportation issues.

New Plan

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Maybe move the old-persons home so that it's not adjacent to a bunch of night clubs? Just a thought.

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