Skip to main content

Community Board 8 agrees to request curbs on arena liquor license, cites bottle service from Jay-Z's 40/40 Club, concern about late-night drinking, and information not previously available to CBs

The saga of the pending Barclays Center liquor license--actually, some 54 separate licenses--took two twists yesterday.

First, arena operators announced the presence of Jay-Z's sometimes controversial 40/40 Club, apparently to include bottle service. Then Brooklyn Community Board 8, hitherto absent from the debate, unanimously agreed to ask the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for an earlier cut-off time at a massive facility just past its borders.

The 40/40 Club announcement, like nearly every news release regarding the Barclays Center, was surely strategized to drive headlines, and it did.

The timing--after the liquor license process is well along--may also have been strategized to avoid Community Board scrutiny. (The SLA holds the second day of a two-day public hearing June 20 at 7 pm at its office in Harlem.

When representatives of the arena and Levy Premium Foodservice made presentations to Community Boards 2 and 6, beginning in April, there was no mention of the 40/40 Club, or bottle service, a mode of distribution that provoked CB 6 to express disapproval of the liquor license application, given that it's usually limited to less residential areas.

Beyond that, the Community Boards were told that alcohol service at the arena would end, as per league standards, by the end of the third quarter of NBA games, and before the end of other events.

Only after the two CBs expressed conditional support for the license, with most conditions easily met, did the applicants acknowledge that 1,800 VIPs--the equivalent, perhaps, of nearly two dozen neighborhood bars--would be allowed to drink for an hour after the end of each event. The SLA is statutorily required to consider Community Board input, rather than general public input.

Bottle service not clearly announced

Screenshot from 40/40 Club website
Will there in fact be bottle service? It's a feature of the 40/40 Club format, though the Barclays Center press release didn't mention it.

But it did imply that there would be no deviation from the formula. According to Jim Vogel, a staffer for state Senator Velmanette Montgomery, a query to Forest City Ratner's external affairs VP Ashley Cotton was met with no confirmation either way regarding bottle service.

The New York Post reported:
Located on the suite level, the 40/40 will have many of the same high-end features as its Chelsea flagship. In recent years, the hotspot has been marred by on-site brawls, union protests and health code problems.
Lauren Menache, a 40/40 spokeswoman, said the Barclays offshoot would only be accessible to ticket holders of Nets games, concerts and other arena events — and that it wants to serve booze until 2 a.m.
The Post also reported that the club will be open to any arena patron, which raises questions about whether, in fact, only the VIPs will have access to alcohol service after hours.

At CB 8

The Community Board 8 general meeting was held last night in the eastern end of the district, at a church on Bergen Street east of Utica Avenue, nearly three miles from the arena, a sign of how the Atlantic Yards site is split among three districts.

Indeed, noted Second Vice President Rob Witherwax, the board usually doesn’t comment on licenses outside its district. “However, for a variety of reasons, the executive board agreed we'd be shirking our duty were we not to weigh in on the liquor license” he said, citing more than 50 separate license requests and the fact that the surface parking lot, which will have 541 vehicles from arenagoers, is in CB 8.

Board members voted 38-0, with one abstention to draft testimony based on a submission by the Dean Street Block Association, 6th to Vanderbilt avenues.

Witherwax noted that new information emerged to which CBs 2 and 6 were not privy, including bottle service and after-hours service.

“Even though we do not have control over the site, we have the parking lot,” he said. 


“Thousands of people [will be] walking through our streets," he said, citing not only those going to the on-site parking lot but otherwise in the district. "An earlier [service] cutoff would be better for our community."

Rob Witherwax
Dean Street Block Association

Witherwax cited the block association’s letter, which noted that the Barclays Center’s presence depends on an override of city zoning, and  “arena operations are woven into our community,” with the walk to the surface parking on residential Dean Street. 

Another sports facility close to residences, Wrigley Field in Chicago, has only 30 evening events a year and liquor sales must end no later than 9:30 pm, added the block association.

Modifying the times?

The letter noted a BrooklynSpeaks petition for drink sales to end after half time at a NBA game, 45 minutes before the end of an event, or 10 pm, whichever comes first. 

That’s highly unlikely--a negotiating position, perhaps. I suspect the NBA standard won't budge.


However, given that the arena setting is somewhere between Madison Square Garden and Wrigley Field, neighbors do have an argument for a cutoff before the currently contemplated 2 am.


And surely they have an argument about after-event service, which was never disclosed.

Thanks from residents, skepticism toward FCR

Gib Veconi
Several Prospect Heights residents in the audience expressed thanks for the board’s action. Photographer (and AYR contributor) Tracy Collins, a resident of the Dean Street block on the path between the arena and parking lot, noted, “If you have seen some sports fans and concertgoers once they leave an arena, you can imagine how crazy how it might be.”

Added Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and BrooklynSpeaks, “The moral of the story here is that... the developer of Atlantic Yards has a track record of going for far-reaching public approvals and not being completely transparent about... it happened in 2006 and 2009 with regard to the duration of the project"--which Veconi's organization and others successfully challenged in court--"and it's happening [again].”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

"There is no alternative": DM Glen on de Blasio's affordable housing strategy

As I've written, Mayor Bill de Blasio sure knows how to steer and spin coverage of his affordable housing initiatives.

Indeed, his latest announcement, claiming significant progress, came with a pre-press release op-ed in the New York Daily News and then a friendly photo-op press conference with an understandably grateful--and very lucky--winner of an affordable housing lottery.

To me, though, the most significant quote came from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported:
said public housing had been “starved” of federal support for years now, leaving the city with fewer ways of creating affordable housing. “Are we relying too heavily on the private sector?” she said. “There is no alternative.” Though Glen was using what she surely sees as a common-sense phrase, it recalls the slogan of a politician with whom I doubt de Blasio identifies: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative who believed in free markets.

It suggests the limits to …