The day… the music… died.

While standing in the basement of The Lafayette Church last evening, listening to Elmwood villagers battle it out over whether Acropolis was a nightclub or not, I came to a realization. Elmwood villagers are divided into two camps. The first camp lives in the Elmwood Village because they are either raising a family or are retired. These are the people who talk about issues such as lack of parking, loud music, drunk people, etc. The second camp is clearly a younger demographic who live in the ‘village’ because it is located in a city where they can find eclectic live music, bars that stay open late, lively patios, etc. The first camp attempted to paint Acropolis as a nightclub with pounding music, drunk patrons walking the streets, windows rattling, sleepless nights… while the second camp recounted with impressions of an older, subdued clientele who would not be caught in a nightclub atmosphere and who were genuinely appreciative to have a place in the city where they could relax, have drinks and listen to live music.

If I sound like I’m on the side of Acropolis, it’s because I am. I am in that second camp. I appreciate what Acropolis is offering to a middle-age clientele, and truly enjoy spending my time there listening to music that I find is far from loud and obnoxious. This past summer I listened to one of my young neighbors practicing his drums every evening (without fail). The drums might have been a bit irritating if I didn’t tell myself that this was city living. Eventually I began to embrace the sound, as apparently all my neighbors did because he played until it was too cold to leave the windows open. I’m sure that he’s still playing, but winter is a quiet time as windows are shut and upper decks are empty. Just like the patios on Elmwood. Come spring I will open my windows again, and will listen for the sounds of the city, as I have my entire life. I will also be one of the people on Elmwood looking for places where my wife and I can find live music on any given night. That’s why we live in the city. We don’t need parking. We aren’t looking for nightclubs. We enjoy spending time with our friends and neighbors at places that embody city living.
Acropolis-Buffalo-quiet-NY.jpg
When I stopped in for lunch at Acropolis on Wednesday, I was greeted with low conversation and no music playing on the radio. Can you believe that until Common Council decides on the issue, the restaurant can’t even play the radio? There was NO music playing, and all of the patrons were talking about the issue. At the same time, Acropolis’s opponents are also saying that the restaurant shouldn’t be able to open the bar on the second floor, and that servers should have to have to walk up a flight of stairs every time someone orders a drink. Insane? That would pretty much kill all of the banquets, events and fundraisers that Acropolis has been counting on. No music. No drinks served on the second floor. The first camp contends that they live in the Elmwood Village because it’s quiet, and that’s the way they like it. I still remember when it was decided that the name ‘The Elmwood Strip’ was going to be rebranded as ‘The Elmwood Village’. I didn’t agree with the change for the very reasons that we are fighting this battle before us today. We live in a city that should be vibrant, not dead. We should be embracing Acropolis and the investments that are being made. Same with Blue Monk and all of the others that contribute to the cosmopolitan atmosphere that so many city dwellers desire. There’s a big difference between nightlife and nightclubs. 

About the author  ⁄ buffalorising

84 comments
brownteeth
brownteeth

Actually it's the combination of the two that helps progress. One person moves into a house and a business expands. If that combo happened once a month we'd be a lot further along.

city_girl
city_girl

I am not really familiar with the Acropolis situation, and have no opinion one way or the other about its music other than there are existing laws on the book in regards to noise pollution, if they are violating them or propose the establishment should be given a variance, it is a local neighborhood issue.

That said, I am very bothered by comments in regards to the nature of urban vitality. Comments by BR in regards to the two camps. I love cities, I have studied cities. My favorite urbanist is William Whyte and his work on public places. A successful public place is welcoming to all types--the pan handlers, the older generation playing chess in a public park, the skateboarders, the more punk crowd, mothers and grandmothers with strollers at a park. For a strip like Elmwood to be successful, it should be accommodating to all users-the bar crowd, the families, and the older generation.

Saying those who disagree with your side of an issue should move to the suburbs is not pro-urban, but anti-urban. The NYT recently had an article on the grey tsunami coming to cities. Discussed the cities such as New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Portland, and Atlanta on the cutting edge embracing the concept of welcoming to all generations.

Maybe, instead of proposing that the older generation move to the suburbs, the focus should be on appreciating and respecting differences and work toward a compromise.

Daniel Sack
Daniel Sack

No. If people want a noisy city they should work towards changing the laws about noise, not claim that illegal noise is acceptable.

calexandrowicz
calexandrowicz

if people want quiet, then they should move to the suburbs not the city. ugh...

jtrzewitcowski
jtrzewitcowski

Congratulations, seriously. It's people like you that will help the city progress, not a converted Greek restaurant.

HWA
HWA

As per Jim Comeford Commissioner Permits/Inspections and Inspector Muscarel multiple stop work orders were issued in December due to renovation work without proper permits and unlicensed contractors doing the work. Owner removed the stop work order which is illegal and work resumed illegally. Contact Comeford, he’ll tell you th rest 716-851-4972.

Daniel Sack
Daniel Sack

"whatever" - David asked. I know what I know, I tell you what I have heard. David can tell you what a proper ramp slope is, you can measure it and report back. I'm not saying the City isn't at fault if it can't or won't enforce our laws. Good question about how do they prove they can play quiet music when they aren't allowed to play any music. I think a good first step would be to start playing by the rules. Maybe first some music but not at late hours at first. Acropolis caused their own problems, sometimes solutions aren't easy. The zoning law does not give them a "right" to operate a restaurant or bar.

KangDangaLang
KangDangaLang

You never said you lived west of Richmond. Also your comments stink from the bottom up philosophy that is not needed.

whatever
whatever

Daniel>"check the noise laws"

Buffalo's law says "293-5. Additional guidelines to determine unreasonable noise. [Amended 10-2-1990, effective 10-11-1990]

"The subject noise must exceed ambient noise by five decibels or more in any octave band to be declared excessive or unreasonable.

… 293-6. Methods of measurement.

Noise measurements shall be made with a sound-level meter and compatible octave band analyzer manufactured according to the specification of the American National Standards Institute, USA Standard Specification for General Purpose Sound Level Meters (S1.4-1971) and Preferred Center Frequencies for Acoustical Measurements (S1.6-1960) …"

If it isn't already, the city should start using some of the $ it receives in music license revenue to buy some basic sound measuring equipment and keep it in working condition. If what Daniel commented in the previous thread is true that a city official said the city doesn't now have equipment to enforce the law it wrote, then that's a bad of both the Common Council and mayor. They should correct it.

Why not have each of the 5 police districts each have a good enough sound meter and a few officers trained in it's use? It isn't as though Acropolis is the first time this has come up - far from it.

But to deny a music license to Acropolis because the city for now isn't capable of prosecuting violations (if that's true), doesn't seem fair.

Daniel>"But Acropolis has to prove to the community that they can change."

And how could they prove the music is quieter now after soundproofing if they aren't now allowed to have any music?

CatLick
CatLick

Maybe we should make business owners memorize the city charter, but I guess we don't really need this since apparently there are a whole army of idiots out there who already have it memorized and are willing applying their vast base of meaningless knowledge as they interpret it. Why don't you sue him?

If he owns the building, he should close it, board it up and fill it with food so the rats come. Apparently there are already a lot there anyway.

Daniel Sack
Daniel Sack

Newell (aka queenseyes), you are so wrong in your assessment of the people you describe in the first paragraph. I am opposed to the sound levels I heard form Acropolis last year. I support what Paul says he wants. But there are contradictions. His supporters say it is not a noisy place but Paul talked about all the soundproofing he has installed. Either it is noisy and doesn't need soundproofing, or it is and he does.

If I'm in your "opposition" group, I don't fit. I'm not raising a family and I'm not retired. Actually most of the people I met in the "quiet" camp are not retired, some are raising families. If the Tralf is a nightclub, I like nightclubs; I have been going to hear music at the old Tralf on Main near Fillmore and the new Tralf downtown for about 35 years. Many Acropolis supporters say they would never go to a "nightclub". Really? BUT I would not want to subject neighbors of the Tralf to the sound levels I have experienced there. Fortunately the old Tralf was in a basement with a Taco shop upstairs. I never heard any complaints about the volume. The new Tralf is in Theater Place, also a place where there is enough separation from residents so as not to be a problem. I guess you and all your friends would hate both places. Too bad - great national music acts have performed there.

The issue is noise. Many in your group of people (like Pano) suggest that my friends should move to the suburbs or beyond (Pano suggested Marilla!). Surely you don't really agree with that. Promote suburban sprawl because city living is for people who can sleep through loud music at 1:00 AM. Really? I know you don't believe that - is that Buffalo Rising? But you place yourself in that camp. Good that you could tolerate your neighbor drummer; should every city dweller?

Okay, your "second camp" likes the Greek euro-whatever is was called quiet scene. Is that what is demonstrated YouTube videos shot at Acropolis like Kerianne - Hip Hop Kareoke and hip-hop artist Billy Drease Williams? Fine. Keep the volume down and enjoy. No neighbors have a problem with music they can't hear.

You wrote "We live in a city that should be vibrant, not dead." Before the change of use by Acropolis this City was "dead"? Really? That's not what I have been reading on Buffalo Rising for several years.

You need to read the City Charter 511-55 and 511-56. 511-55 describes how "restricted use" is applied, 511-56 describes what business types are "restricted" in the EB Zoning district. "Restricted Use". Sort of like "speed limit"; speed is limited or "restricted". Some "uses" on Elmwood are "restricted" or "limited". A really simple concept. The City of Buffalo may "restrict" the use of a property. Actually because the Acropolis was remodeled it is no longer "grandfathered" in that "restricted use" and the City could withdraw their permit to operate a restaurant and bar.

RPreskop
RPreskop

This is another valid reason why business doesn't want to invest in Buffalo. All this foolhardy, idiotic opposition against the Acropolis plans to upgrade into a hip place. If some of these NIMBYs don't like it, then they should do everyone a good favor and move out. This is a major city, not little house on the prairie.

Daniel Sack
Daniel Sack

"entertainment district"? read Buffalo Charter 511-56, available online. Elmwood is not an entertainment district. Why would people think it is? Chippewa is an entertainment district, and notice how that is almost all it is.

Elmwood is a mixed use district, and so successful because of that.

BacktoBuffalo
BacktoBuffalo

A couple of years ago an existing restaurant in EV opened, built a bar, and served food. Great. I only went once but I thought it was good to have a place like this in the neighborhood. Restaurant went under, new restaurant comes in, changes the menu, adds a sidewalk patio, and things are still OK. Then the new restaurant takes out half their dining tables and hangs 2 for 1 Ladies night posters in their window and suddenly their patrons are hanging outside to smoke, leaving butts all over the place and rambling through the neighborhoods after closing (4:30 AM). The point? People may not be sure they are getting what they thought they were getting.

STEEL
STEEL

People keep suggesting that laws were broken. What laws?

STEEL
STEEL

Your reasons for not wanting this business sound ridiculous. Is really why you are giving this business a hard time? I really don't get it. The anti crowd should be embarrassed.

cityofgoodneighbors
cityofgoodneighbors

I live on a busy street in Buffalo so I can understand both sides of the issue. However, if Acropolis doesn't have a history of creating unreasonable noise disturbances for residents, then halting their expansion seems a bit unfair to me.

If they were blasting music at all hours of the night and inviting drunken patrons to throw trash all over neighbors' yards, that would be different. But I don't get the impression that's the case.

It's completely unfair that the city has the right to ban them from playing the radio inside their own building just because a few NIMBYs are raising a fuss.

Elmwood Avenue is a regional attraction that brings in both neighborhood residents and people from other parts of the city and county. That generates money, jobs, and opportunities for people in the neighborhood and makes our city a fun and attractive place. A reasonable amount of noise in the evenings and on the weekends seems like a worthy compromise.

summersh
summersh

I understand the neighbors with concern about adding more noise and drunks to the area with the addition of another bar but as long as the establishment is following noise ordinances and the police are patrolling for people being too routy I don't see an issue. Just saying living in a city so you should have to deal with noise is a weak argument but living in an entertainment district is whole other thing. Even in the suburbs if you live near a bar or bars there's going to be a bit more noise. you know that when you move in and only have a valid complaint if those places break the law.

garethml
garethml

Thanks for writing a great balanced article on the tensions involved in development on Elmwood. It is always frustrating for me to watch from the outside on these issues. I can understand some of the positions of the other camp, but I see development on Elmwood as so positive for Buffalo's growth that it is hard for me to accept that people would not support the expansion of a business that has been on the strip for decades. Elmwood is such a pleasant and dynamic neighborhood - the dynamic part brings new people into the city, the pleasant part is stable enough to make them stay. Elmwood is great neighborhood for both of these reasons. I hate watching businesses with only the good of the city at heart find so much resistance to improvement.

CatLick
CatLick

What can I say, you make it easy.

KangDangaLang
KangDangaLang

Acropolis pulls a completely different demographic than what a standard night club does. You're arguing apples and spray tan.

KangDangaLang
KangDangaLang

Who pissed in this guys Cheerios? Also, do you live west of Richmond?

Joe E.V.
Joe E.V.

When in doubt and out of facts, attack the person not the argument.

KangDangaLang
KangDangaLang

..........we should send the police in to confiscate all the stereo equipment, iPods and fedoras.

CatLick
CatLick

Fair enough Joe, nothing wrong with you being ignorant of your arrogance.

Joe E.V.
Joe E.V.

You're not confused, you just wish to be ignorant of the facts.

CatLick
CatLick

I'm confused, your arrogance or his?

MrGreenJeans
MrGreenJeans

That age group has been staying in my area for about 2-3 years, never long enough to become familiar, let alone stabilizing forces. The edges of the illuusional "Elmwood Village" are just parking spots, until the little Yuppies can afford a spot East of Richmond, if not out of Buffalo. Too bad for them, I say - you really can walk to Elmwood & waste money on the rip-off cafes and restaurants, while enjoying the sound of tree frogs and crickets West of Richmond. Occasional shootings and yard parties do disturb the night critters, though. And the City still refuses to "allow" home owners rightful access to their own land & build a driveway, because some snobs think it looks "icky" to have a paved spot in the front dooryard. That is (one) important reason new residents move away - you DO need a car, but there are few driveways and parking can be impossible.

Anyway, I am not sad for the owner of the Acropolis. Adding a second-floor dining room and bar in a frame building sounds like a fire trap. Expecting banquet business where parking is so difficult sounds delusional. Just sell the souvlaki & maybe not bombard patrons with crappy music.

STEEL
STEEL

I have several friends who have raised their very wonderful kids in Buffalo as was I.

STEEL
STEEL

Your argument is disingenuous at best. Another night club? Really? The place hardly looks like a nightclub. I have not heard one real reason from the crowd trying to kill this business why it should not be allowed. It sounds like he has made reasonable effort to come to agreement with the neighborhood,. He is a long standing neighborhood business owner who does not have a record of problems with his neighbors.

Buffalo needs Elmwood to succeed and it needs it to grow and continue to add businesses. This constant NIMBY crap is disgraceful .

Perhaps the solution should be that no one in the entire neighborhood can play music. We should send the police in to confiscate all the stereo equipment and iPods.

This is a phony controversy.

whatever
whatever

norwalk's point

"abide by the legal decible level set by the city for music let him proceed"

should be how this is dealt with, not only for Acropolis but for all.

To deny a business a license because they *might* violate it doesn't sound at all fair or reasonable.

In the BR article from a few days about Acropolis, my comment linked to the city's law about this which allows up to 5 decibels at some distance and specifies the type of sound meter to measure. The law also states punishments for violations which can include license revoking.

Daniel's replies to me implied he's certain the city can't objectively do the sound measurement, but I don't see why anybody should just have to accept his claim about it.

osirisascending
osirisascending

What in the name of all things holy does THIS have to do with Muriel Howard? You're STILL beating that long-dead horse.

Move on. The rest of the city did.

jtrzewitcowski
jtrzewitcowski

My argument in all of this isn't necessarily the sound issue, though the lack of respect given to those who don't want another bar in their backyard is pretty disrespectful, if I live across the street from a shooting range I don't think I'd want another on the other side of the street. My point is that Elmwood is in sore need of some diversity. Restaurant, bar, salon, coffee shop... come on. I guess if the market will support those things so be it, but it would be nice to see BR get behind something truly new & creative. It says a lot about the people dominating this thread, are your lives that singular that you're in such a need of another nightclub? Personally, i think another bar is the last thing the city needs.

Slu
Slu

I am 35. I bought a house in Elmwood Village a year and a half ago. My daughter is 9 months old. I moved here because of the vibrancy and urban feel. I am friends with two couples with kids under 2 who also live here and are not leaving anytime soon. You are not the only one that has anecdotal evidence.

grad94
grad94

if i could 'favorite' you, ericoak, i would.

Godmorgen
Godmorgen

I am quite sure that it is nothing compared to the motorcycles at Merlin's back in the day. I remember living above Fee at 4 am with out fail, those bikes would be a-revvin'. City living! That little baby got used to it and so did I. That being said, I must be the curmudgeon and declare that I loved Acropolis the way it was back when it was lovingly called "Acrapolis". Also, although I don't know the family that owns Acropolis personally, I know that they are really nice people that have served The Strip well for a long long time. Cut 'em some slack. Keep up the good work Acropolis!

jtrzewitcowski
jtrzewitcowski

Those that I have known do a roadrunner out of the city within a week of their first kid being born.

Chenango
Chenango

The debate is purely conceptual.

No one has any idea what the acoustics would be, which determines the level of noise.

The only way to really know is to do it.

Only then can a mutual agreement be met.

BacktoBuffalo
BacktoBuffalo

Do bars really need to be open till 4 AM? Why can't they formulate a compromise where the place shuts down at 1 AM and let those who want to continue partying take a cab down to Allentown or Chippewa?

brownteeth
brownteeth

Those 28 year old D-bags you detest so much are exactly the demographic we need more of in the city. Those 20/30 year-olds are buying houses in the city now more than anyone. They're also the one's renting the new lofts downtown, and the apartments in the 2-unit houses that make up 90% of the housing stock. As well as supporting new restaurants and bars despite the $15 cost of a drink and they still pay their bills on time.

Apparently by your logic, families appear out of thin air? Or did you forget what it's like to be that age and how going to bars often leads to dating which leads to families?

KangDangaLang
KangDangaLang

I fear you may be right. Eventually we will have a nimby vs hippy showdown. As more and more affluent members of society move in to the Elmwood area. I fear that it will cause the lower economic rung of the village (which gives it most of its character) to no longer be able to afford the conforts of living in such a place.

elmdog
elmdog

Of course its the political dysfunction and all of the other backwards thinking...but every highly admired city in the states is based around having vibrant neighborhoods, a good mix of young and old, universities, jobs and cultural diversity.......No one has said that bars are the answer but its a good mix of different choices for all that makes people want to keep coming back...The changes this guy has made are great and I have seen an impressive increase in his breakfast and dinner business since the changes...So it makes absolutely no sense why he is getting negative feedback...

brownteeth
brownteeth

"It pretty much is about adding another bar to an area so full of bars already"

You nailed it. This area has a history of bars and entertainment so how can you argue this small project shouldn't happen here?

No ones trying or even suggesting that this place will turn Buffalo around. It's simply a matter of a few disgruntled residents who aren't happy about the commercial business district that they moved into years ago adjusting to the times. If they want to maintain their Elmwood Village vibrancy which I assume is what drew them there to begin with, then they should welcome change.

And let's face it, this isn't some dance club with booty bass and thugs hanging around outside til 4 am, it's geared towards white 30 somethings who drive a volvo and probably own a house within a mile of the place.

flyguy
flyguy

This all seems very similar to Pano's on Elmwood, Starbucks on Elmwood, Elmwood Village Hotel on Elmwood and Forest, Gates Circle Tower on Gates Circle. Inevitably whether built or not the community moves on and as far as I can see Pano's and Starbucks have been pretty solid down there. This seems like pre-development NIMBY jitters

brownteeth
brownteeth

Even Pano was interviewed and said if residents want no noise they should move to Marilla. I find it's funny that he's backing a restauranteur who is essentialy copying his business model a few blocks away.

If this were a different block of Elmwood, say between North and Bryant, I could understand. But I find it difficult to believe this will be any more disruptive than Cecelia's, Blue Monk, Spot Coffee, or any other establishment that is literally a few feet away. Furthermore, I drove by yesterday and failed to see a residence any closer to Acropolis than another commercial establishment, including Ceceilia's with a larger open patio.

The bottom line is that the "noise" precendent has been established for many many years in this section of Elmwood and that should be enough to get this resolved.

jtrzewitcowski
jtrzewitcowski

So wrong on so so many levels. It pretty much is about adding another bar to an area so full of bars already. What the city has lacked for 20 years is not more bars, are you out of your f-ing mind? It's been 20, 30, 40 years of political dysfunction, inequity, petty fiefdoms, and tyranny not a lack of catering to punks with some cash in their pockets. A city, any city, is vibrant and thrives because of diversity. I would also bet that the majority of the kids frequenting hardware on Sat nights, Chippewa, & eventually the Acropolis are from West Seneca, OP, Amherst, Hamburg, etc. Having five bars on every block with a live-in DJ won't attract anyone to move into the city, ultimately the backbone has got to be families not some 28 year old d-bag investment banker looking for their next $15 pre-prohibition cocktail.

elmdog
elmdog

The city of Buffalo, the elmwood and Delaware lack something and it has for 20 years or more...Buffalo lacks the Urban feel that attracts a certain age group that likes to spend money, live and grow...Most of the age group; 25 - 40 either move to the suburbs and or out of town for better jobs, culture, nightlife, people and vibe...To build the city around these demographic is key. First we need jobs to retain these people - But secondly and most important you need, vibrancy, electricity and culture within the areas they want to live...Getting younger professional people to live and stay where they are is simple; give them the things that they want....Diverse bars, restaurants, coffee shops, wine bars, theater, social gathering areas...But to do that we need to get rid of people who just dont like change...If you want quiet...move to Darien or Springville...

Chenango
Chenango

The only place you go UP, to GET DOWN!

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