Advisory Neighborhood Commission members appeal nightclub’s liquor license

Foggy Bottom-area residents are protesting a K Street club’s right to serve liquor, saying noisy club-goers are lowering residential property values and affecting the quality of life in the area.

All six members of the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission objected last week to the Shadow Room’s request to renew its liquor license and to extend a license to a second club. Residents have cited fights between club patrons and an assault on a Metropolitan Police Department officer as reasons the club should be banned from serving alcohol.

The ANC and Shadow Room have a voluntary agreement governing the club’s operation hours and other measures, but ANC Commissioner Florence Harmon said Shadow Room’s owners are circumventing the agreement by trying to open a second club on the floor below Shadow Room, called Sanctuary 21.

Harmon and four other residents filed a petition this month with the D.C. Court of Appeals to reverse the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration’s Aug. 4 decision granting Sanctuary 21 a liquor license.

Shadow Room’s liquor license applies to the first and basement floors of the property, Harmon said, so a new liquor license for Sancutary 21 would violate the ANC voluntary agreement that limits the club’s occupancy to 300 patrons on both floors.

But ABRA officials maintain the second license does not violate the agreement, saying that Shadow Room’s license only applies to the first floor, and have told residents their arguments are flawed, according to ABRA documents.

Swaptak Das, Shadow Room’s president and chief executive, said the ANC commissioners have treated Shadow Room fairly, but described relations with some commissioners as tense.

“It’s legally clear that we have the right to go after a separate liquor license downstairs, there are [residents] just saying that no, we’re not going to allow it,” Das said.

ABRA is set to hold a hearing Nov. 22 to determine Shadow Room’s fate, but Harmon said there’s a chance this date could be pushed back since the ANC could file a petition in opposition.

At the ANC meeting, Harmon said the noise in the alley behind Shadow Room has caused complaints from residents in apartment buildings like hers.

“Patrons coming into the alley and making a lot of noise – it really reverberates,” Harmon said.

Chris Labas, one of the individuals who is petitioning ABRA’s decision to give a license to Sanctuary 21, said Thursday that the area around Shadow Room is a “nightmare.”

“Ever since it’s opened, nothing has changed. Everything that has gone wrong continues to go wrong, and we still feel it. Every Thursday, every Friday, every Saturday,” Labas said.

Das said any incidents at Shadow Room are documented by the police detail the club hires to patrol the area.

“Every 251 [police report] gets investigated, and an ABRA investigator follows through with it, that’s just due process. You cannot convict on due process, but after the due process has been complete, we have had no reprimands, nothing [from ABRA],” Das said.

Con Hitchcock, the attorney for the five individuals, said ABRA will now send the case record to court. After briefs are filed by the parties, the case will be argued before a panel of three judges in 2011.

Das said he wasn’t concerned about the petition filed.

“I have full faith in ABRA and I’m not really that concerned. It’s now I think a matter of the ABRA Board against the residents.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.