A Neighbor’s Shh! Could Silence a Village Theater for Good

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When Mayor Bill de Blasio cut the ribbon in front of the newly renovated and reopened Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village, he called it a “magical place.” He proclaimed April 13, 2017, as “Quad Cinema Day,” an honor befitting its status as a local institution.

Less than two years later, the theater, which shows a mix of popular, foreign and independent films, is mired in a legal dispute that, if not resolved, could result in its closure. The cinema, which was Manhattan’s first four-screen theater when it opened in 1972, is in danger of being evicted because a neighbor who lives right above it has said that the noise from the venue is too loud.

The dispute has now spilled into court. Last week, lawyers for Quad Cinema, which is owned by the developer Charles S. Cohen, asked a court to block its building, a West 13th Street co-op, from terminating its proprietary lease. The suit was reported on Monday by The Real Deal.

In July, according to the paperwork filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the co-op informed the theater that it was in default of its lease on two fronts, which could result in eviction: One, the noise from its air-conditioning units and the films themselves were “intolerable” to a resident of the building and two, there was an unpaid bill to a painting company.

Regarding the unpaid work, the theater said that it actually did pay the bill at the end of last year. As for the noise, the dispute gets a bit more complicated.

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Quad Cinema said in its suit that it “strives to be a ‘good neighbor’ to other residents in the building, and has been and continues to be very responsive to any resident complaints concerning the operation of the theater.”

This depends on who you ask. According to the filing, the renovation of the theater, which took two years, featured “extensive soundproofing.” Yet multiple residents immediately complained about the noise. By 2018, after Quad Cinema eliminated the use of subwoofer speakers, the complaints from most residents had stopped. But one tenant, Asad Rahman, who lived directly above two of the screens, continued pressing the issue, saying that he kept hearing sounds from films and from the theater’s air-conditioning equipment.

The theater suggested in its lawsuit that Rahman’s complaints were exaggerated and that he reported noise even when no movies were playing under his apartment.

Rahman declined to comment. The suit describes a meeting in October in his apartment involving the theater, Rahman, an employee of the air-conditioning company that services the venue, a representative from Cerami, a sound consulting company, and the building superintendent to assess the noise complaint.

“No audio from the theaters below was heard by plaintiff’s representatives in any portion of the apartment directly above theaters A and D,” the lawsuit said. (The other screens are labeled Q and U.)

“When the volume was turned to the MAXIMUM level (10), very slight audio was heard in the two rear bedrooms of the apartment,” the lawsuit said.

Quad Cinema said that it has the “willingness and ability to cure any lingering noise problem” but that it wants the court to step in and stop the co-op from moving forward with the eviction.

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Anthony Dreyer, the co-op board’s president, expressed hope in an interview that the dispute could be worked out.

“The co-op hopes that the Quad, like all shareholders, abides by its obligations to the co-op and its residents,” Mr. Dreyer said. “We expect it to take the steps necessary to remediate the noise issues, and we look forward to its continued success as a vibrant theater in our neighborhood.”

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