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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Community Board 6 Holds Special Meeting Regarding Liquor License Application For "Swan Dive" In Gowanus


Community Board 6's Mark Shames (seated)
and  Permits And Licenses Committee Chair Mike Racioppo (standing)
Akiva Reich, owner of the Green Building
Swan Dive's General Manager Mike
76th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Vincent MarroneIMG_3928
Tonight, Community Board 6 is expected to vote on a seasonal liquor license for "Swan Dive", an outdoor BBQ and drinking garden next to the Green Building at 450-452 Union Street in Gowanus.
Though the vote is strictly advisory, the New York State Liquor Authority considers the recommendation when issuing a license.

Previously, the Green Building's owner, Akiva Reich, and his lawyer, had appeared in front of CB6 Permits and Licenses Committee on April 27th to explain that the 10,000 square foot space outdoor establishment would run from May to November, would be open 6 days a week until 2 AM, would play amplified music, and would seat 157 people at 22 tables.

Akiva Reich and his lawyer told the committee that they had fulfilled CB6's requirement of notifying the venue's neighbors within a 500 ft. radius. Since no residents from the immediate vicinity attended the April meeting, the Committee expressed concern regarding sufficient notification, given the size of the venue. Only one local resident had reached out to CB6 manager Craig Hammerman to say that she had only found out about the application the day of the meeting. She asking for the committee to delay a vote since many nearby residents, including those from The Mill and The Satori, two large condominium buildings, had not been informed.

Given the apparent lack of proper notification, the Committee asked Mr. Reich and his lawyer if they would be willing to withhold their liquor application in order to allow a full discussion with proper community notification, but they refused.
The Committee's vote on this issue resulted in a 4-4 tie to disapprove their license application.

Since the April 27th meeting, the Community Board has heard from many of the venue's neighbors. In response to this "groundswell of concern", the Board's Permits and Licenses committee arranged a meeting for the community with the partners of the Green building.
The meeting was held at the space on Union Street this past Monday night at 7 pm. It was well attended by local residents.

Mr. Reich gave everyone a presentation of  Swan Lake's concept, which seemed to have changed significantly since the April 27 meeting. "We are looking for a family and neighborhood crowd," he explained. Besides a full bar, there will be a bbq menu which includes ribs, hamburgers, brisket, deviled eggs and cole slaw. The menu will include slushies and snow cones for the kids. "We will be offering comfort food at $20 and less," Reich said.
He also mentioned that there would be children's programming during the day.

Though Mr. Reich and his general manager tried hard to make the venue sound like a family-style restaurant, residents were not so quickly swayed. They mentioned more than once that the 2 AM closing time would seriously affect their quality of life. Many also voiced concerns about rats, crowds and loud music.

One resident, who lives in the Satori, told Reich that loud music could already be heard regularly from the events at the Green Space and from Reich's adjacent venue at 501 Union Street.
76th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Vincent Marrone was on hand to say that amplified music of any kind is not permitted outdoors at any time.  Even if "Swan Dive" were to apply for an outdoor sound permit, it would only allow Reich to play music till 8 PM.
"We cannot give you a sound permit for this type of space," Morrone told Reich.

There was a lot of skepticism about how Reich and his partners plan on limiting the crowd to 157 people and how they plan on handling drunk patrons, especially late at night. "I don't know how much control you will have," one resident said. "You kick them out the door and they are hanging out on the street and then you say that they are no longer your problem."

At the end of the meeting, it was clear that Mr Reich was willing to amend the hours of operation for 'Swan Dive'. "My interests are aligned with yours," he told the residents. " I would not do anything that would create a conflict with everything else I want to do in my other two establishments on the block."

The Community Board Meeting will take place tonight at Brooklyn Borough Hall at 209 Joralemon Street at 6:30 pm.  It is open to the public but strictly to observe. 
It should be an interesting vote.


Batman said...

Just stop for a moment and think about how ridiculous a concept it is that a quasi-governmental entity is reviewing MENU ITEMS for a business to determine if, in their unprofessional, unqualified opinions, this business will impact their "quality of life". How bizarre is that?

Also, shout out to the "resident" who is concerned with rats. Did they not know what was there before?

Anonymous said...

What about the portable bathroom facilities?

If the staff pressure washes the ground and the rub off finds its way into the canal, does that make Akiva Reich a PRP?

As for the menu items, that was a PR puff piece for the owner's benefit not for the community.

bored at work said...

The only item up for review, and an advisory vote, is the liquor license for the seasonal establishment.

The bait and switch, however, is pretty obvious here. At first, its a late night bar with music...then, its a family friendly venue with food. If he actually adjusts his hours that will be a good thing.

But Mr. Reich's investment in the space is obviously predicated on the approval of a liquor license. I have no idea of the Green Space is well run or a good neighbor, but 157+ people drinking and trying to talk above one another will be pretty loud, even with no music.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fun venue; not for me, I am too old. If they shorten the hours, and stop music at 8:00, or none at all, it should be fine.

Pit Bawse said...

The good news for opponents-- I'm neutral on this-- is the attrition rate for restaurants is high, let alone yet another BBQ joint in an area relatively well served with same and zero track record... Not to mention-- hah hah-- eating right next to toxic shitpool. It might be "authentic" but it doesn't taste like chicken!

Andy said...

Well, the reviews are in...