Volume 19 Issue 50 | April 27 - May 3, 2007

Club says this ain’t no disco, but C.B. 1 opposes it anyway

Live performance venues may be dropping like flies across Lower Manhattan, but Community Board 1 is resisting the addition of a new venue at 100 Lafayette St., near the corner of Walker St.

.B. 1 voted in April against a cabaret license for the venue, whose address will be their title. C.B. 1 also voted against 100 Lafayette’s application for a liquor license two years ago, but the owners were still able to secure their license from the State Liquor Authority.

“The fact is that area is zoned correctly for cabaret and, even if the community board opposes it, there’s not much they can do to stop it,” Warren Pesetsky, a lawyer representing the development, said of the board’s advisory vote. “We definitely plan to continue moving forward.”

The board’s votes are advisory and it is up to the city Dept. of Consumer Affairs to approve the cabaret license.

The two-story space, which is currently under construction, will house live music and art exhibits. Musicians Spencer Sweeney and Andrew W.K., lawyer Larry Golden and actor Ron Castellano own the property and club.

During C.B. 1’s Tribeca Committee meeting, Golden argued that the community needs a place for up-and-coming musicians to perform and experiment with their art. He cited last year’s closing of the infamous live venue CBGB and the recent closing of Tonic.

Golden said Downtown used to be an epicenter for live music and emerging artists and that they want to help maintain that identity, offering space for all types of musical performances.

Committee members said their biggest concern is the proposed hours of operation, which will be 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. One board member said, “If it looks like a disco and sounds like a disco…” Committee members said they did not see how live music could go on until 4 in the morning.

For Amy Chin of the Chinatown Partnership, the late hours of 100 Lafayette are part of its appeal. Chin, former executive director of the New York Chinese Cultural Center in Chinatown, spoke in favor of bringing more nightlife to that area. As it stands now, she said, the neighborhood is “desolate and deserted at night,” making it particularly unsafe for women.

Chin told Downtown Express, “I think it was an inaccurate portrayal to say it was a disco. It will be a gallery and it will be a live music venue.”

The developers of 100 Lafayette brought 4,000 signatures from other community members who support their venue. One board member flipped through the 3-inch-thick stack of signatures and dismissed them, saying most were N.Y.U. students and some were from Queens and Brooklyn.

“Aren’t these people?” Pesetsky said in a telephone interview. “There is a lot more support for it than there is opposition. Unfortunately, the community board seems to give more weight to the opposition.”

Pesetsky said his clients hope to open 100 Lafayette in June.

— Brooke Edwards

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