A boozy entertainment Mecca is taking shape across the street from the Barclays Center — and the chief beneficiary is one of the early opponents of the Atlantic Yards mega-project.
The nearly football field-sized property, on Pacific Street just across Flatbush Avenue from the rising basketball arena, is already the proposed home of a sports bar/gastropub, but property owner Henry Weinstein continues to market the massive property in a breathless online ad touting it as “perfect for ‘Dave and Busters’ type” entertainment, a reference to the frenetic Texas-based chain that’s been described as a Chuck E. Cheese with beer.
“How about neon or digital behind glass, aimed at the crowds streaming into the Barclays Arena?” the ad crows. “Our architect calls it a ‘sexy space’ — we call it a freakin’ GOLDMINE for the right user!”
The ad dangles the prospect of “80,000 customers a night,” though the $1-billion arena seats roughly 18,000.
Whatever the numbers are, one-time project foe Weinstein said he’s not going to kick a gift horse in the mouth.
“There will be an arena across the street and this will be a big entertainment destination. Like it or not, this is an upcoming area,” he said. “There’s no stopping progress.”
But Weinstein is certainly no apologist for the $4.9-billion Atlantic Yards development, of which the arena is a part. After all, a Pacific Street that he once owned was seized by the state in 2010 under eminent domain law after a protracted, contentious battle. He said his relationship with Yards developer Bruce Ratner remains “strained.”
Strained all the way to the bank: Weinstein said he’s already received interest from national chains, which he would not name. Dave and Busters appears to be off the list though, as the company has said that the space is not big enough.
Residents said the transformation of the neighborhood into a neon-lit nightlife destination is exactly what they feared since the inception of the Atlantic Yards project, which overrode city zoning to allow for an arena and up to 16 skyscrapers in an otherwise low-rise, quiet residential area.
“Go to Madison Square Garden and see what kinds of businesses are around it,” said Eric McClure, co-founder of Park Slope Neighbors, a civic group. “I definitely think this changes the nature of the neighborhood.
“This is what people feared when the state overrode zoning laws that ban the construction of an arena within 200-feet of a residential neighborhood,” McClure added.
The property has neighbors’ attention, as the proposed bar/gastropub is already causing indigestion among those fearful of the radical change that’s anticipated.
But Weinstein dismissed local concerns.
“We want something that is community board friendly,” he said.
Yards critics do not have high hopes.
“Basically, they are advertising the space to put a franchise in that is as gaudy as possible,” said Daniel Goldstein, founder of the opposition group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.
The nascent bar brouhaha is one of many expected over the next year, as the scramble to sate sports fans’ appetite reaches a fever pitch before the arena opens in late 2012. Prime 6, another restaurant/bar aiming to net arena-goers was recently forced to compromise and cut its outdoor patio hours, after neighbors cried foul.