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Bar fight! Sunset Parkers fear return of nightmare nightclub

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They don’t want to join this club.

A bar set to open on 39th Street between Third and Fourth avenues will cause the same late-night nuisances as the seedy establishment that previously occupied the space, complained Sunset Parkers at a recent meeting of Community Board 7. One local who lives across the street from the soon-to-open watering hole — which the owner promised would be “upscale” — said it sounded just like the old nightclub that drove them crazy, and that the neighbors were ready to fight to keep their peace.

“It doesn’t sound upscale or for the neighborhood — it’s a windowless bar, so it gets a particular stripe of patron,” said Danny Stoddard. “This guy doesn’t seem to be interested in running an establishment that is at all different from what we’ve experienced, and [he] should know we’re going to fight tooth and nail on every infraction unless major stuff is done.”

But when the new bar’s owner and manager Pablo Nivicela appeared before CB7’s Public Safety Committee with his accountant Renan Mazorra at the April 9 meeting, they promised the spot at 1004 Fourth Ave. — ominously dubbed “Explosion 21” — would be nothing like its predecessor, “El Tropicoso,”

That nightclub received 62 Criminal Court summons for excessive noise, public urination, and drinking in public during its two-year reign from 2014–16, according to the local 72nd Precinct’s community affairs officer, Sean Spencer, who added that locals made 44 calls to 911 about the club during the same period, and that a sex crime also occurred at the site. A Sunset Parker who lives across the street said she heard rumors the bar was known for prostitution.

Nivicela promised there would be neither dancing nor a lounge at Explosion 21 — even though it would be open from 7 pm until 4 am and likely feature a deejay. Locals quickly called out the inconsistencies, charging that the plans were a recipe for reopening a den of debauchery unless Nivicela made major changes, such as adding windows.

“When it was the club, there were lots of nefarious things going on that we couldn’t see from the street,” said Anthony Sisto, who also lives across the road. “So if you want to open up a legitimate bar, where the community is welcome and it’s a benefit to the community, we want to see what the hell’s going on inside, because people are sitting on my street after they leave the bar, and puking, and pissing, and doing coke, and fighting.”

The locals demanded that Nivicela soundproof the space, and the head of the board said that the pair should return to the panel with a security plan and details on how they would shut down every night to avoid encouraging the loiterers who hung around and wreaked havoc in the neighborhood after El Tropicoso would lock up.

One neighbor said the lowlifes caused hundreds of dollars in damage to her property when they left the club drunk, and that she was doubtful the new place would be any different.

“I’ve had my car vandalized, I’ve had liquor bottles thrown at the front of my building while I was sitting on my stoop. When I left for work there were still drunk people outside,” said Erin Giacinto. “I’ve never been to an upscale jazz club that’s open till 4 am — it’s just not the case. Clubs are open until 4 am. Everything about this sounds exactly like what it was.”

Sisto — and the board — also suggested that Nivicela consider changing the new bar’s name, worrying that it could attract the same sort of rowdy crowd that frequented the previous club.

“You coming in with the name ‘Explosion 21’ is not really welcoming to the neighborho­od,” he said. “How about ‘Quiet 39?’ ”

Mazorra insisted he didn’t know about any of the previous problems plaguing the site, and that his deejay would only play “soft, ’80s background music” that would discourage dancing — and thus, presumably, debauchery.

“It’s not a cabaret — we’re not going to encourage dancing. We trust that people are not going to get up and dance,” he said. “We feel it’s going to be a benefit to the neighborho­od.”

The meeting with the community board was a customary, non-binding courtesy as part of the process to obtain a liquor license, which the State Liquor Authority ultimately grants or denies. The pair promised to return to the board with more details next month.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 5:45 pm, July 9, 2018
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