Wine Bar Proposal Passed Over Loud Opposition
by Avi - June 9, 2010 at 11:55 pm -
A community board committee approved plans for a new wine bar on the corner of 62nd Street and Central Park West despite hours worth of loud objections from the people who live in the landmark building where it’s supposed to go.
The fight over the bar proposal at 25 Central Park West has only just begun and to get a liquor permit proprietor Greg Hunt will have to win at least two more votes — from the full community board and the state liquor authority. But the 7-2 vote on Wednesday night was a big victory, given that Hunt appeared to be up against long odds. More than 100 people packed the small sweaty community board meeting room, and it seemed like almost all of them were lawyers. In fact, one said very matter-of-factly: “This will be litigated. It will be litigated and opposed and it will not open.”
In all, about 50 people spoke out at the meeting — about 18 in favor and 35 opposed. Residents in the building said the bar would bring “hookers, “drugs”, “drug dealers,” “celebrities” and “drunks soliciting me when I’m out walking my dog.” There was even discussion of whether Lindsay Lohan would be interested in hanging out at a place like this. Community Board member Linda Alexander tried to reassure everyone that the Upper West Side is not nearly cool/trashy enough for Lindsay Lohan.
Mostly, locals were upset that the bar would be open until 3 a.m. even though Hunt has said he wants to appeal to a quiet, sophisticated over-35 crowd. They also questioned why he needed a full liquor license if he wants to mostly serve wine (he could have applied for a wine and beer license too). Hunt says he needs to keep it open late to make enough money to pay the rent, given that he’s going to keep the occupancy small (no more than 74 people at any time).
The vote in favor of the proposal was a big surprise to people in the room, many of whom lived in 25 CPW and its neighbor to the South, 15 Central Park West. Those two buildings house some very rich and powerful people, particularly 15 CPW. In fact, each building has hired its own lobbying group to oppose the plan. But Hunt agreed to make changes to appease some of his critics, in particular saying he would close the bar down at 2 a.m. on Wednesday through Saturday and 1 a.m. Sunday through Tuesday. Community Board 7’s business committee also asked him to shoo away patrons once they left the bar, so they won’t hang around carousing and smoking. Those stipulations and a few others were enough to win the vote.
“I’m pro-business,” said Michelle Parker, a co-chair of the committee, as to why she voted in favor of the proposal. “We’ve got to keep people moving around the neighborhood.”
This controversy will likely only get more attention in the coming weeks. Since we broke the story about the proposal a couple of weeks ago, the New York Post and Times have written about it, and a TV camera was recording the action on Wednesday. And lots of local politicians have expressed skepticism about Hunt’s plans, including Councilwoman Gale Brewer, Borough President Scott Stringer and State Senator Tom Duane.
Residents of 25 CPW said they were stunned, and vowed to fight the proposal again once it hits the full community board on July 6.
“We’re actually extremely surprised by the result,” said Paul Millman, a 25 CPW resident. “We thought our arguments were so overwhelming and logical, it was astonishing.”