CB8 Slams 583 Park Application
In the latest development of the ongoing battle between the event venue 583 Park and some of its Upper East Side neighbors, Community Board 8 voted to disapprove the venue’s beer and wine license application last week.
583 Park is located in the Third Church of Christ Scientist’s historic building on Park Avenue and East 63rd Street, part of the reason neighbors contend it doesn’t belong in their residential community. They say that the church, which still holds services there and leases the space to 583 Park, using the money to fund its $400,000 operating budget plus costly repairs, is overshadowed by the lavish and loud events held by clients of 583 Park.
The venue’s operators, the Rose Group, downgraded their hopes of obtaining a permanent liquor license after the State Liquor Authority (SLA) rejected their application. Complicated litigation surrounding the liquor license and intense community opposition led the SLA to also stop issuing one-time permits to outside caterers, a common practice in the event industry, for events at 583 Park.
The Rose Group has stated that they will likely take a financial hit by sticking to beer and wine and skipping the booze, but that they could still get by, accommodating more charity events and fewer weddings. They also made it clear that if they’re not able to serve alcohol of any kind, they’ll have to pull out of their lease.
While that’s exactly the outcome some residents are rooting for, the Community Board and the people it serves have little sway over the granting of a beer and wine license, a fact that was barely addressed at the hours-long meeting. A beer and wine license application is not subject to the 200-foot rule, which prohibits a full liquor license at an establishment within 200 feet of a church or school, or the 500-foot rule, which assumes that an application will not be granted if there is another establishment with an on-premises liquor license within 500 feet unless it is in the public interest. In fact, the SLA states that community opposition is not grounds for denying a beer and wine license.
Board member and Street Life Committee co-chair Cos Spagnoletti likened it to a driver’s license, presumed issued unless something egregious, like a felony record, prevents it. But that fact didn’t diminish some residents’ and board members’ fervor in calling for the demise of 583 Park.
The previous week, the Street Life Committee rejected the application and, despite a substitute motion offered by board member Jonathan Horn to approve it with caveats (restricting loading and unloading times, not allowing limos and black cars to idle outside, nixing flashy exterior lighting, limiting the capacity for events, among a long list of other stipulations the Rose Group had agreed to), the Board still voted to reject the application.
Some neighbors appeared to be feeling victorious when the vote count was tallied, but it remains to be seen if the SLA will follow suit with the Board’s rejection or follow the law and let 583 Park continue hosting and pouring for their paying customers.
Garbage Dump Gets Go-Ahead
Earlier this week, the mayor’s office confirmed that the city had received the permits from the Army Corps of Engineers allowing the construction of the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (MTS) to start. The Upper East Side waste transfer site has been defunct for years, but was resurrected by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Solid Waste Management Plan and could be operational again, with major renovations, by 2015, according to the city, now that they have obtained the requisite federal permits.
But local opponents, residents as well as politicians, say that they won’t stop fighting the MTS.
“I am disappointed by the [Army Corps’] decision to grant a permit for a project that will harm the habitat for East River fish, have a significant negative impact on the health and quality of life in a densely residential neighborhood and make the waterfront much less accessible in the East 90s,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney in a statement, citing the Environmental Protection Agency’s concerns that the city’s mitigation plan doesn’t do enough to protect fish and wildlife.
Assembly Member Micah Kellner, who launched a lawsuit against the city several weeks ago to stop the MTS, also said he was disappointed, but vowed to continue pushing back through the courts.
“[The decision] was not unexpected and is far from the final word on the matter,” said Kellner in an email. “Nothing has changed as far as I am concerned. My lawsuit is proceeding and I am confident that when we have our day in court on Aug. 17, we will finally put this ill-conceived Marine Transfer Station to rest.”
The lawsuit alleges that the city hasn’t properly amended its environmental impact statement for the project to reflect the increased daily intake of trash that the facility would process.
While the lawsuit proceeds—and others may crop up, sources say—the city may continue with its plan to start construction but will also have to worry about funding a project that is expected to cost $245 million.
Fire Injures Firefighters and UES Woman
A fire rampaged through an Upper East Side building on Saturday night, injuring six firefighters and one resident, NY1 reported. The fire started around 10:45 p.m. in a grocery store at East 88th Street and Third Avenue. One woman found collapsed on the stairs was taken to the hospital for treatment. Fire officials told NY1 that the fire was in the walls of the building and was difficult to contain. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
New York-Presbyterian Hospital Plans Expansion
The Upper East Side hospital brought plans to build a new facility to the Community Board last week. The hospital will turn two older residential buildings it owns on York Avenue between East 68th and 69th streets into a 15-story facility.
Sharon Greenberg, vice president for facility development and management, explained to the Board and the public in attendance that the plans are preliminary, but that they have an idea of what the building will look like and what functions it will serve. There will be an ambulatory care center as well as maternity care at the new building. It is planned to increase capacity for New York-Presbyterian as well as reduce wait times for procedures by utilizing more high-tech, less invasive outpatient procedures. Greenberg assured the Board that the hospital will provide alternative housing to the residents of the current building, including equivalent rent-regulated units for those tenants who are now under rent regulation, well before construction is slated to begin in 2014.
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