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Hotel built next to Austin's historic music district files lawsuit over loud music

The Westin in Downtown Austin has filed a lawsuit against the adjacent Nook Amphitheater and is seeking an injunction on the venue, claiming loud outdoor music being played into the early hours of the morning is harming their business. (CBS Austin)

AUSTIN, Tex. (KEYE) - The Westin in Downtown Austin has filed a lawsuit against the adjacent Nook Amphitheater and is seeking an injunction on the venue, claiming loud outdoor music being played into the early hours of the morning is harming their business.

The amphitheater is located within the boundaries of what is considered one the city's historic music districts. Sixth Street is often cited as a well-known attraction for live music and entertainment. Austin itself is widely considered the "live music capital of the world." The hotel, which is located on 5th Street, is separated from the music venue by only an alley.

Westin guest Robert Goldstein says he did have trouble sleeping in his hotel room this week. His room is on the north side of the hotel, which is only feet away from the Nook.

"It's fun, fun, fun down below, but when you're trying to sleep and relax at night, you've got to definitely put earplugs in," Goldstein said.

An extra $1 million was spent on the Westin during its initial construction to fortify windows and drywall, in order to prevent the disturbance of downtown music.

The company claims it has since spent and additional $1 million to block out music, but there is nothing on the market that can block the bass coming from the Nook's open air venue.

Owners of the Nook say they have tried to work with the hotel and that they have not broken any city ordinances.


"It's frustrating, definitely frustrating, because they're coming at us pretty strong. We're small business owners. They're big corporate. We want to keep live music Austin alive," said Nook owner JD Dunn.

The Nook allegedly plays what the lawsuit calls "chest thumping bass" seven nights a week until 2 a.m., and the Westin claims this has made some rooms uninhabitable and caused extreme annoyance to staff and guests.

Dunn says they have a permit to play during those hours and that they follow noise ordinances carefully. The Nook staff keeps a written log of sound levels and uses a sound reader to test them every half hour. The owners say they feel they can win the lawsuit.

"I'm very confident. We're not doing anything wrong. Like I said, we want to keep live music here in Austin. We're under the city ordinance of our sound permit," Dunn said.

Representatives for the Westin used a sound meter to test the Nook's equipment before building the hotel, and Nook co-owner Stephen Condon says the equipment hasn't changed since.

"We let them inside. We let them upstairs, so they're well aware of what they were getting into, and the sound system that they tested is the exact same sound system we have now," said Condon.

The Westin also claims that the issue has resulted in negative customer reviews and is impacting their business. They ask for more than $1 million in the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the Westin sent KEYE-TV this statement:

"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 so much amazing talent. 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. We've also reached out to our neighboring businesses to ask for their assistance in maintaining the legal noise level, but unfortunately haven't been able to obtain cooperation from one of our neighbors in reducing intrusive noise and acoustical vibrations.
The music scene in Austin is one of the biggest draws to the city, and The Westin Austin Downtown's proximity to 6th Street is a big part of the appeal for our hotel guests. We support the city's title as the 'Live Music Capital of the World' while ensuring those that visit can also enjoy their stay with manageable noise levels."

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