A hotel in the heart of Austin’s entertainment district has filed a lawsuit against an open air music venue on 6th Street.
A lawyer for the company that owns the Westin hotel claims loud music from the Nook Amphitheater has made the hotel "virtually uninhabitable" for guests. Historic 6th Street in downtown Austin is one of the busiest parts of the city on any given night and part of the reason Austin has been coined the live music capital of the world.
The Nook Amphitheater popped up on the scene there in 2012. A little more than two years later, developers started constructing the Westin hotel right behind the open-air venue.
According to hotel management, “chest-thumping bass” keeps guests up until 2 a.m. on any given night, leading to complaints and negative reviews.
“There’s tons of bars on 6th Street. It can't be just this one bar,” said J.D. Dunn, co-owner of the Nook.
Now, the hotel is suing the nook for $1,000,000 and a court order that would require them to turn down the bass.
“We have a law that we can play music till 2 a.m. I'm under that law, so I don't feel like we're doing anything wrong,” Dunn said.
According to legal documents, the Westin spent more than $2,000,000 to help soundproof guest room, but it didn’t fix the problem. They said bass from the Nook is consistently violating city ordinance.
“I would say two nights ago it was fairly loud, enough to wake me up during the night off and on for probably three hours. And we're on the 16th floor, so I'm fairly high, so you wouldn't think you'd hear as much noise,” said Mary Boland, a guest at the Westin.
Meanwhile, co-owners of the Nook say they have taken extra measures to help accommodate the Westin, adding plexiglass to the front of the building, rearranging speakers and checking sound levels every half hour to stay within city regulations.
“We're trying to work with the Westin. We've been working with the Westin for over a year on different ideas, different scenarios to come up and help with the issues that they're having with the sound getting into the building,” said Dunn.
White Lodging Services which manages the Westin sent FOX 7 this statement regarding the lawsuit: "We have installed special soundproofing materials and taken other measures, including offering to pay for the costs of upgrading this venue's sound system based on their own specifications."
“If they want to pay for the cost to upgrade the system, do it. That's what we presented to them and they just slapped us with a lawsuit,” Dunn said.
One thing owners of the Nook say they can't do is turn down the music.
“The vibe wouldn't be here. When you're standing up here watching a band, you want to be there with them, you want to feel it and we're allowed to play to what we're playing it at. So, the more we turn it down, we would lose business,” said Dunn.
Owners of the Nook said if the Westin would agree to pay $75,000 to help upgrade their sound system, this problem wouldn't exist. The JBN sound system comes with a guarantee that says it would cut down the noise complaints, but owners of the Nook can't afford it on their own.
Owners of the Nook have started an online petition asking the Mayor and City Council to step in.
That petition can be found here.
Full statement from Director of Communications for White Lodging Services Kathleen Quilligan Sebastian:
Our relationships with our neighbors are important. The 110,000+ guests we expect to host over the next year at The Westin Austin Downtown are absolutely going out to spend time and dollars at these venues, and they are choosing the hotel in part because of the proximity to the entertainment districts that the city is known for.
Prior to construction, we did undergo a thorough acoustical review, and there was there was a good faith effort to address noise challenges before we broke ground. Since opening, we have been taking our own measurements of noise levels, from different floors and angles to attempt to understand the noise issues. We’ve also retrofitted all rooms facing 6th Street, adding improvements to help mitigate the noise that comes from our neighbors.
Our current challenge is not with live music, but with one nearby establishment that frequently plays recorded dance music through loudspeakers that consistently exceed the bass decibel ordinance established by the city. We have been working with this venue for more than a year on ways to make sure everybody on 6th Street has a good time. This is the only venue that refuses to follow the city’s ordinance. We have installed special soundproofing materials and taken other measures, including offering to pay for the costs of upgrading this venue’s sound system based on their own specifications. We are not asking the venue to change who they are; we are simply asking that in the wee hours of the morning, they turn the bass down on their DJ music so that all the visitors our city welcomes can enjoy all aspects of their stay.