Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The battle over Prime 6 at the corner of Flatbush and Sixth: not a sports bar, but questions over the owner's intentions

It's not billed as a sports bar--despite the Brooklyn Paper's headline (Slopers will rally tomorrow night against sports bar near Barclays Center) but Prime 6, a restaurant, bar, and lounge with promised live entertainment, has been portrayed (by the Brooklyn Paper again) as "the fight over all the bars [Atlantic Yards] will attract."

Well, I'm not sure about that, since the southwest corner of Flatbush and Sixth avenues, a long block or so from the arena site boundaries via both Flatbush and Sixth, is already a few steps from Cubana Cafe and Sugarcane, and the establishment should open in May, more than a year before the arena is scheduled to open.

Rather, it seems most emblematic of the longstanding tensions raised by the juxtaposition of residential blocks and those with retail and entertainment uses. Then again, given that the logo (via Facebook) seems to resemble a basketball, the operators seem to be trying to capitalize on the coming arena.

Liquor license granted, issue ignored

And the issue should be not whether a bar at a corner deserves a liquor license, but the balance: this would have a capacity of 230 and a backyard area that bumps into a residential block. (Look at the first 1:40 of the video at bottom, for some context. The new bar would replace the closed Royal Video.)

That didn't happen, as the Brooklyn Paper reports, in Slopers are too late to stop Yards-area bar:
[Akiva Ofshtein] had notified Community Board 6 back in November of his intention to seek the license. The board had 30 days to object, but it did not.

As a result, Ofshtein’s attorney George Karp filed for the license application on Jan. 18, and the liquor agency granted the license — actually three, for bar service in the main restaurant, a basement lounge, and a backyard area — on Feb. 16 following a hearing in Manhattan, at which no objections were raised.

Given the capacity and the proximity to transit, it's questionable that Ofshtein is targeting a neighborhood audience, as he claimed to the Paper:
In an interview, he told us that he has yet to decide what type of restaurant his place will be, deciding between a “California kitchen” and a steakhouse, possibly named Prime 6.

But either way, he insisted, his restaurant is for locals.

“I am gearing up for a Park Slope clientele,” he said, promising a May opening.

The bar will serve food until 4 am, feature two large televisions, a private party area, “acoustic music,” and an outdoor garden area — which residents said must be removed from his plans.

...“Our ultimate goal is to have a high-end style Manhattan restaurant in Brooklyn,” he claimed.

But that image was betrayed by Ofshtein’s Prime 6 Myspace page, which featured suggestively posed women, and Facebook page which included a link to the “Prime 6 mixed CD,” created by hip hop artist DJ Big Jeff, who has songs titled, “Motha F–ka, I’m Ill” and “New Money.”

Ofshtein disavowed any involvement with the pages, saying they were done by an independent business to drum up interest in his venture.

But the explanations struck a disingenuous chord with residents...
What next? The Paper reports:
Community Board 6 will reconsider the matter in a month, but it is unclear what the panel can achieve.
Here's coverage on Brownstoner, plus video of the meeting, as well as on Park Slope Patch.

And check the comments in the Brooklyn Paper regarding charges of NIMBYism and racism.

A walk north on Sixth Avenue

This video was shot in May 2010. It shows the residential context of Sixth Avenue but not the houses on St. Marks Avenue, home of the people most concerned about the new Prime 6.

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