Odds Appear Stacked Against Wine Bar at 25 CPW

by - June 8, 2010 at 11:48 pm -

A Community Board 7 committee will decide on Wednesday night whether to approve a liquor license application for a wine bar and cafe at 25 Central Park West. The fight over the bar has already taken on an epic quality.

A rendering of the proposed bar.

A rendering of the proposed bar.

(Story UPDATED after vote)

The wine bar, which we first wrote about a couple of weeks ago, would go into the ground floor space at 25 CPW at 62nd Street. That space used to be a Gristede’s and now houses a temporary art gallery. But community opposition from two of the most well-connected buildings in the city has built into a fever pitch. 25 Central Park West, a landmark building known as The Century, and 15 Central Park West, home of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, have both aligned against the proposal. Each building has hired its own lobbying group to fight the proposal. The bar was originally called the Century Cafe, but is now being called the Central Park West Cafe.

At least 400 people have signed petitions to stop the proposal and top politicians in the area (all the way up to Borough President Scott Stringer) have already expressed their skepticism, said Jake Dilemani, a government relations associate at the Parkside Group, which is representing condo owners at 25 Central Park West. Lawyers are scouring zoning rules to find a way to derail the project.

The community board’s vote is nonbinding but important. The State Liquor Authority makes the final call.

25 cpw

25 Central Park West

Greg Hunt, who is bringing the proposal, says he just wants to open a relaxed and sophisticated art deco wine bar with wood paneling and portraits of Ethel Merman and other former residents of The Century. Check out his new website, which compares the bar to Cafe des Artistes. He says his target clientele is over 35. But to make the bar profitable he is keeping it open every night until 3 a.m. That, he realizes, kind of hurts his case. Because do you know a lot of people over 35 who stay out until 3 a.m.? Yeah, us neither.

Hunt says that because he’s planning to keep the bar small and intimate he’s going to need to keep it open very late (and open as early as 9 a.m. on the weekends) to bring in enough money. People coming from Lincoln Center and the AMC Loews movie theater on 68th Street could drop by for some wine after a late show, he says.

Opponents, who have their own website, say the 3 a.m. closing and 15-foot bar make them think the “wine bar” sounds more like a nightclub or something you’d find in the meatpacking district.

“That’s a huge issue,” Dilemani said. “Opening 7 days a week until 3 a.m. is completely out of line with a residential neighborhood.”

Hunt, who has hired his own lobbying group, is trying other tactics to try to make friends in the building. The bar will serve take-out exclusively to residents of 25 Central Park West. But it’s hard to imagine that little carrot will change anyone’s mind.

“The odds are against me,” Hunt said.

(Rendering via Central Park West Cafe website. Flickr photo of bottles by ldanderson)

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  1. Claudia4Ever says...

    Oh give me a break! A small wine bar is not going to become a crazy downtown nightclub scene when it’s located inside a residential bldg; on CPW with nothing else commerce-wise on CPW; and obviously not priced for Jello-shots. Look at Cafe Luxemborg or Compass — no scenes out and about over there; just lowkey, quality clientele & atmosphere. It’s about time the UWS had some after hours places in proximity to Lincoln Center – for patrons AND artists alike. And for the record, there are plenty of UWS 35+, 40+, 50+ fabulous folks who would delight & support such a cool local hang.

  2. Tres Hanley says...

    Obviously Claudia4ever, you do not live in the area. And If you do- there are plenty of places to go already if you are a party girl so walking a few blocks from where you live isn’t going to knock you out. Any late night establishment with alcohol will only make the park area a bit more dangerous attracting drug dealers and prostitution. I don’t want to be walking my dogs around the block at midnight and have to run into some drunk man who is going to harass me. Aren’t drinking establishments known for having to watch for that all the time? I’m all for a nice wine bar that goes 24 hours if it likes, in a commercial district. Plenty of them in NYC. Keep the residential areas residential.

  3. Peter says...

    I’m tired of the NIMBYs whenever an entrepreneur is risking their own dollars to try to offer an amenity which will improve an area. If you live, essentially at the crossroads of Midtown, Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center, an elegant cafe for an older, moneyed set is not a crazy idea. It will not attract drug dealers or prostitutes any more than the local residents of the area demand. As a long term resident and condo owner paying taxes on the Upper West Side, I have to say I would enjoy having a glass of wine at a place like this.

  4. Will B says...

    I wouldn’t call a late night establishment an amenity that would improve the area. I think the current Art Gallery is something that adds to the area. It’s culture and I would like to see that continue. I agree with the view that long and late hours of drinking can’t come to any good. If I go into a bar at midnight and walk out at few hours later, I need assistance just to get to a cab.

  5. HMA19 says...

    I can’t help but comment. Common sense – If you are going to a wine bar you are going to drink. Therefore it stands to reason you are going to have a percentage of people coming out drunk. It’s not something I would want in my building. I live on CPW in the 80s.

  6. wyatt says...

    I live in the area (one block away), and I think it would be a nice amenity for the community. To say this is a “residential” district vs. a “commercial” district is quite a stretch. Half a block away is a best buy, movie theater, and other shops. SO this is not really a residential district. It’s the city–that’s what mixed-use buildings are for.

    It would be nice to have a relaxed glass of wine in the neighborhood. This could do for the neighborhood what the Empire Hotel was supposed to do. Instead, the empire roof bar did indeed turn into a club. Outside promoters are brought in to bring people from other parts of the city to the empire roof, and it has deteriorated the neighborhood. If Hunt follows through on what is actually says he will, then this will be a nice addition for residents of the area. I am not sure what the beef is that residents of those 2 building have. Just like people who protested the movie theater on 68th, they will probably end up being the biggest users of the place.

  7. pete says...

    it’s about time someone put in a nice place like this. what’s the alternative? another boring bank that adds zero to the neighborhood. a bank would add nothing to the community landscape, but residents would be thrilled by that? let the man build a nice place for the community to enjoy.

  8. CW 15cpw says...

    The area already has the Empire Hotel- Trump and the Manderin. Not to mention the bars in TW which serves the purpose. In 15 CPW we have a public space of our own. I’ve spoken with many of my fellow residents about this proposed ‘Wine Bar’. We have Trump on one side and would like the other side of CPW for us to remain a quiet zone. There are enough of other choices already in the area for late night drinks at hotels in the area. I agree with the posters who mention problems with late night drinking. At least in the hotels they have enough of security to deal with that. This will be a more isolated area and can lend itself to dangerous situations.

  9. yanksfan says...

    I find Wyatt’s comment amusing to say that the people in 15 & 25 CPW will be the biggest uses of it. Especially since we have hundreds of signatures from residents who do not want it. The building on Broadway is truly in a commercial zone. CPW is very different, very quiet. Not to mention there is a school on the next corner. Open your bar on Broadway.

  10. Peter says...

    “I think the current Art Gallery is something that adds to the area.”
    I would like point out that the Art Gallery pays the owner no rent. And the residents of 25 CPW pay less in taxes then all the UWS residents that live in ordinary condos built in the last 25 years. Pioneer homeowners and taxpayers of the UWS over the last few decades were the political force that actually attracted the redevelopment of Columbus Circle, and added greatly to the value of 25 CPW. Now, I’d like to see 25 CPW homeowners pay their fair share of property taxes before they can stop a landowner from renting to a commercial tenant with a logical business plan.

  11. CW 15cpw says...

    Hey Peter,

    This isn’t about people’s taxes or one building of another. This is as much about 15 CPW as it is 25 CPW. As well as the neighboring buildings.

    And if the owner of the space wants to rent for free then he must have a reason he’s doing that. And I’m sure it’s for a reason that serves him.

    If you have issues about taxes go start another fight. This one isn’t about taxes.

  12. PLM says...

    It’s preposterous to claim that residents of the Century pay any less than their fair share of NYC property taxes. This is a matter of public record. Anyone making this claim is misinformed and/or malicious.

  13. Peter says...

    “This is a matter of public record.”
    Thank God the tax records are public record, because it is the only way we might hope to have tax fairness in the future. I stand behind my prior statement. In 2010, the Department of Finance assumes that the Gross Income Per Square Foot of 25 CPW is 36, which is an absurdly low number. For virtually all condos built in the last 25 years, regardless of how downright ordinary they are, all the way up to W 96th St (a much cheaper rent district), the Department of Finance assumes a Gross Income Per Square Foot of 42. In prior years these Gross Income figures were even further apart, and so it will be years of tax advantage for unit owners of 25 CPW, since assessed values changes are averaged in over five years. And yes, I believe when wealthy owners, pay less tax per square foot, then their less advantaged neighbors 30 blocks north, politicians should take note. As one of those long standing taxpayers on the UWS, I have an opinion too.

  14. Karen says...

    Peter – a bit bitter about life aren’t we? Go check the tax records – you will see you are wrong. But this isn’t the discussion here. I worry about my kids thinking that there will be a bar in the area open so early in the day. Not good. is

  15. kimberly says...

    i think it will be a nice idea for a wine bar, plus i dont think the tenant’s living over there dont see both sides, i mean i know that most complain drink wine so i that would be a nice idea to have that and no one complains for the people that walk there dog at 3am in the night especially if there dog is barking loud and not being aware of other peoples concerns so people if you hate drunk noise then i think you shouldn’t live in new york this is the city that never sleep’s !! are have you forgotten

  16. Karen says...

    Kimberly, you choose to live in on a street off of the park cause it’s a quiet street. You pay a premium for this. I bet if this was proposed on Riverside Drive their would be a war about it.

    Therefore the residents should be the ones to say if it should be allowed.

    You comments about dogs at 3am is pointless. If someone is walking their dogs in this area at 3am we don’t hear it. But we do here people or cars cause they are noisy. The dogs are not out barking at 3am.

    It’s quiet here after 11pm. Now we’ll have drunks walking out till all hours. You don’t care because it’s not your building.

    You will see people will resent this man for doing this and no one from 15 or 25 CPW wlll support this place if it opens.

  17. HA says...

    If you want to see what a DISASTER this would be, just look at the unwelcome crowd the bar at the Empire hotel brings to the neighborhood. I’m with Tres, I don’t want to walk through the crowd late at night with my dogs. 25CPW is neither Columbus Circle nor Lincoln Center. Two blocks is like a mile for our immediate neighborhood.

    Where do I go to sign the petition opposing it.