When it was priced out of the Lower East Side after 16 years there, The Living Room said it didn’t want to move to Brooklyn — but after closing in October, the beloved singer-songwriter venue where Norah Jones cut her teeth is angling for a new home on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg.
Things might be looking a little more familiar across the river than the venue anticipated, with new neighbors including Max Fish, the legendary art bar that was also uprooted from Ludlow Street because of rising rent last year, and the Knitting Factory, another music venue priced out of Manhattan back in 2008.
Is Metropolitan Avenue the new Ludlow? There’s an edge of bitterness when Living Room owner Jennifer Gilson describes the eastward migration.
“We just couldn’t find a location [in Manhattan] that was appropriate,” she said at a meeting of Community Board 1’s SLA committee n Williamsburg last night. She and her husband and co-owner Steve Rosenthal, a three-time Grammy Award-winning engineer and producer, said they had tried four or more locations in Manhattan before deciding to move to Brooklyn.
But Gilson said they had also realized that Brooklyn might want what they had to give. “There are plenty of black box music spaces in Williamsburg, but there is really no good sit-down space,” she said.
The committee, which said it was concerned about noise and smoking complaints, asked for more petitions of support from neighbors before giving its approval.
Andrew Vladeck, a Brooklyn-based alt-rock singer-songwriter who has performed “countless” times at the Living Room, tried to impress upon the committee what Williamsburg would be missing if the venue’s application was denied. “I’ve known the Living Room over the course of several incarnations, and it would be such an asset to the neighborhood and to Brooklyn in general. They are the premier acoustic room in New York City,” he said.
If approved, the Living Room’s new home will be at 134 Metropolitan Ave., right between the new Max Fish and Nitehawk Cinema, in a building that has been vacant for years.