SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - The owners of the ICON Lounge + Event Hall into downtown Sioux Falls say noise complaints that started coming up in September were a shock to them.
September is when tenants began moving into the brand new Jones 421 building. There are apartments that face into the alley on the back of the building, directly behind the ICON Lounge's concert hall. After the first complaint, the lounge worked to get in compliance with the city's noise ordinance of 55 decibels in a residential area after 10:30 p.m.
"We were too loud in the alley, so the first thing we did if you can see behind me is we covered our windows and door and addressed the sound in the alley," said Stacy Newcomb-Weiland, one of the owners of the ICON.
But then police received more complaints.
"There were a few in the fall and then it kind of stopped and then we had three of them in February," said Sam Clemens of the Sioux Falls Police Department.
"Then they started taking readings on the balconies over there and found that it was actually our roof that was leaking a lot of sound that we didn't realize," Newcomb-Weiland said.
All of this came as a shock to the owners who had never had a single noise complaint their six years of business. The ICON is attached to the Gourley building which houses several private apartments and additional businesses.
"We were subject to a 65 decibel limit prior to this," Newcomb-Weiland said.
No one from the Sioux Falls Health Department or police were available to demonstrate how the city's decibel meter readings worked on Wednesday. KSFY News reporter Erika Leigh downloaded an app on her phone that measures the decibel reading and stood outside the ICON lounge during 5 o'clock rush hour traffic. The decibel reading from regular street noise exceeded the 55 dB limit.
The ICON closed for construction to continue to rectify the noise issue last week, after three complaints in February, the last on Feb. 19. It was forced to cancel two concerts as a result. Newcomb-Weiland said they want to keep the character of the historical building but getting in compliance and keeping the beauty of the building has been tricky.
They found out they'd need to add additional acoustic material to the roof, but the roof couldn't support any additional weight.
"We just finished placing new beams on the entire ceiling of the ICON Event Hall and Friday we're putting more acoustical material on the roof," Newcomb-Weiland said. "And then we'll do some more measurements and see where we are."
She said she hopes this latest addition will solve the noise problem.
"The decibel level they've set for this is not realistic and we will not be able to have live music if that continues at 55 decibels," Newcomb-Weiland said. "I mean, it could close us if we can't come up with other alternatives."
Newcomb-Weiland said ownership has looked into other city's noise ordinances, including Omaha and Minneapolis. Omaha's noise ordinance is 75 decibels, which she said she believes is more realistic. Newcomb-Weiland said ownership is considering appealing to city leadership about this issue because they believe Sioux Falls' downtown noise ordinances need to be adjusted in the growing entertainment district.
Management from the Jones 421 building weighed in on Wednesday, Sheila Hazard issued this statement to KSFY News:
"The noise ordinance is a reasonable tool to facilitate the coexistence of commercial and residential uses downtown. It is important to understand that residential is the key to a flourishing downtown over the long term. All we ask is that businesses downtown comply with the ordinance."
The ICON is hosting a reopening event on Thursday evening. Newcomb-Weiland called it "a quiet night."
The Levitt Shell concert venue in Falls Park, which plans to host about 50 concerts each summer, is set to open across the street from the Jones 421 building in 2019.