Some Greenpoint residents who live near Studio B, the 259 Banker Street music venue, are gearing up for a fight against the club’s application for a cabaret license.
A business must have for a cabaret license in order to have dancing in an establishment in which alcohol is served. Recently, the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs sent a letter to Community Board 1 asking for its recommendation on Studio B’s application, affording an opportunity for input from the public.
Those who object to the cabaret license do not oppose dancing per se. Rather, they are loath to support an establishment they contend has been an inconsiderate neighbor and has flouted the law since it opened three years ago.
First and foremost, many say the club has operated as a cabaret establishment – i.e., an establishment with dancing and alcohol – during this time without a cabaret license.
“Yeah there are DJs and dancing and drinks – they need a license for that,” said Susan, a Calyer Street resident who attended last Thursday’s CB 1 Public Safety Committee meeting to oppose the application and declined to give her last name.
When contacted for this article, DCA spokeswoman Elizabeth Miller said the agency was unaware of the dancing. Miller said the DCA would look into the matter and issue violations if it discovered dancing.
The club resides on a block zoned for manufacturing use, but is surrounded on three sides by residential blocks. Neighborhood residents have long complained about the bar’s loud music and unruly keeping them up late at night.
“They don’t seem to care that people’s bedroom windows are right across the street,” said neighborhood resident and CB 1 member Teresa Toro, who regularly walks by the club on her way to her Milton Street apartment.
“The biggest problem is that they don’t take care of the pedestrian traffic and the trash on the street,” said Susan.
“They don’t arrange for any trash-pick up, so they have rats running in and out of garbage. It’s really disgusting,” she said.
Community residents also point to the club’s recent history of flouting the law.
In April, the Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a Stop Work order on construction of an open-air area on the second floor after discovering that interior sheetrock had been installed to create a bar without a permit.
Undeterred, Studio B completed work on this open-air area – which is, basically, three walls without a ceiling – anyway. Work was finished in time for a May 2 concert advertised on the venue’s website as a “blow-out, throw-down.”
The party went ahead despite the fact that building’s Certificate of Occupancy indicating the second floor as unoccupied.
Earlier this year, the DOB issued the club two violations. But it hasn’t issued one since the open-air second floor opened in May. A DOB spokesperson said the agency would inspect the site in the near future.
“Occupying the second floor is a violation of the Certificate of Occupancy, but more importantly may be unsafe if the building is not structured to protect the people using it,” said DOB spokeswoman Caroline Sullivan.
In addition, the Fire Department issued the club two violations for exceeding its maximum capacity earlier this year.
Neighborhood residents contend that the open-air second floor is a poor fit for the neighborhood, violations aside.
“They advertised having a huge sound-system. There shouldn’t be an open-air anything in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” said Susan, who did not want her last name mentioned in this article.
Added Toro: “They’ve demonstrated no respect for the law. We’re just not inclined to support any request of theirs.”
Studio B did not return phone messages and multiple emails about this article as of press time.
CB 1 must make a recommendation to the DCA by its July 8 meeting. Before that, the Board’s Public Safety will hear the matter at its own July meeting before it makes a recommendation to the full Board.