The owner of Trash Bar, who recently announced his music venue will be closing its doors this spring, faced a wall of opposition against his proposed new bar at a meeting in Williamsburg last night. Though Aaron Pierce claimed his new venture would be a classy bar and restaurant, he wasn’t able to shake Trash Bar’s reputation as a drunken, divey free-for-all (delightful for patrons but frequently termed “a nightmare” by those who would be living near the proposed new establishment). His bar failed to get the support of CB1’s SLA Committee.
Pierce told us back in February that Trash Bar is closing at its current location at 256 Grand Street and that he’s searching for a potential new home for the music venue. The timing of his purchase of the new bar on Montrose is merely a coincidence, he said, insisting that this separate endeavor would be low-key, with a much more adult atmosphere. He says the location is too small to host live bands, and on his application he states the bar will have acoustic music only.
Much of the opposition at the meeting came from representatives of the neighboring Lindsay Park housing co-op, which has held two town hall meetings on the matter. Among their biggest concerns was the proximity of Sternberg Park, which is across the street from 63 Montrose between Leonard Street and Lorimer Street. “With the influx of children and many functions going on at the park, a bar is not what we want at this point,” said LaVerne Bowman, communication chairperson for the Shareholders for the Betterment of Lindsay Park. “We already have some other issues with our landscape as far as people roaming around the neighborhood, and we just don’t want to bring any more issues to the neighborhood.”
“We don’t want to take the double parking and triple parking,” said Phoebe Leon, also a member of the Shareholders for the Betterment of Lindsay Park. Committee members agreed that the block next to the park tends to have very congested parking, especially in the summer months. Leon added that there are already several other bars in the area (DuckDuck Bar is two blocks away, and The Graham is three), and that a shooting occurred at a bar a few doors down some years ago.
Jamie Slaper, who lives in 63 Montrose Ave, said she’s uncomfortable with the proposed use of a door leading to the basement that must be accessed via a common hallway used by residents of the building. She said that at a meeting between Pierce, the landlord and residents, Pierce said the door might have be accessed for food deliveries and that he couldn’t say how often employees might be walking through the hall on their way to and from the kitchen. “I don’t feel comfortable having people have complete access to my apartment building,” Slaper said. “I live on the third floor, and they could be hiding on the third floor when I come home from work and attack me.”
The rejection by the Committee comes after two prior attempts by Pierce to secure approval. At a meeting in February, the Committee assigned several items of “homework,” as Pierce called it; Pierce thought he had procured all the necessary signatures and talked to all the people he was supposed to, but it turned out that wasn’t enough to satisfy committee member Abraham Perlstein.
“I would never, ever accept anything without writing,” Perlstein said when Pierce told the committee about his meeting with Rosecindy Siegel, vice principal of PS250, which is located a block away from the proposed bar. “She believes it will be a fun place for teachers to go after work and have a cocktail and a bite to eat,” Pierce said, though he said a letter of support from the school was never mentioned during that meeting, and officials were probably reluctant to give their approval on paper; if anything went wrong at the bar down the line, they could be blamed, he acknowledged.
Pierce could still secure a liquor license from the State Liquor Authority — the committee’s recommendation to deny will be brought to a full meeting of Community Board 1, and the full board’s recommendation will go on record for the SLA to consider when they decide whether or not to approve the application.
Correction: This post has been edited from its original version to correct LaVerne Bowman’s comment; it should read “roaming around the neighborhood.” It has also been changed to clarify that Lindsay Park is a housing co-op.