Noise from Salt Shed music venue is bleeding into neighboring sound studio

To record sound for a television commercial, you need silence –zero background noise.

But the owners of a sound studio on Goose Island say that’s exactly what their mics have been picking up ever since The Salt Shed, a new music venue on the site of the old Morton Salt facility, began hosting outdoor concerts this summer about 200 feet across the North Branch of the Chicago River from them.

“Concerts take place during the week, and afternoon sound checks make it impossible to make clean audio recordings,” said Jules Tomko, who co-owns Essanay Studio with his wife, Susan.

Retrofitting the building to keep sound out would cost $2.6 million — money Tomko doesn’t have.

“And I can’t move to another location. I don’t have the energy,” said Tomko,who has operated the business on Goose Island for 26 years.

Tomko said he doesn’t have a problem with the music venue hostingindoor concerts, which it plans to do next year, it’s just the outdoor ones that complicate things.

Jim Shearer, manager of Essanay, said the company has been able to “dodge the raindrops” thus far but won’t be able to avoid losing clients in the long term.

“The only option is they’ll have to limit the sound coming from their property,” Shearer said. “We’ve been arguing this but no one has taken us very seriously.”

Tomko has had cordial conversations with Bruce Finkelman, the managing partner with 16 on Center, the operators of the music venue, but they’ve led to no real solutions.

Finkelman shares the concert venue’s advance schedule so Essanay can book slots around the noise — but there is no way around the fact that the noise will limit their business, Tomko said.

Tomko has tried to get Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) and Finkelman at the same table to talk about the problem, but previously scheduled meetings have been postponed.

He’s hopeful that a planned get-together scheduled for Monday will finally take place.

“We’ve been waiting for this meeting for about 10 months,” Tomko said,adding that he also contacted the mayor’s office and the city’s film office, but they also have been elusive.

“We’re kind of fighting it on our own,” he said, noting that he wants to avoid litigating the matter if possible.

Burnett did not return a call seeking comment.

Finkelman said he has an open line of communication with the folks at Essanay and is sympathetic to their situation.

“We’ve been working with them since we broke ground on the site a long time ago. Our team has tried to be there as much as we can to be good neighbors and to assist as much as we can. We completely understand that whatever issues they’re experiencingand want to assist where we can,” he said.

Finkelman wasn’t sure how to solve the issue.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll continue to listen and meet with them. I am hopeful we’ll be able to figure out something.”

Three more concerts are scheduled for the outdoor venue this season.

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