Tag Archives: Community Board 5 district manager

Maspeth residents and leaders are split over arts center


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

Maspeth leaders and residents are ready to rumble over the Knockdown Center.

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties and even a mini-golf art exhibition since last year. Now, owners are applying for a license from the State’s Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol for future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

But the center has recently come under fire from local leaders and residents, including Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, Senator Michael Gianaris, City Council candidate Craig Caruana and civic organizations, such as Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET).

“Bringing the arts to our neighborhood is good, but it’s a terrible idea to allow a club to serve alcohol to 600 to 5,000 people at dance parties, raves and concerts right across the street from residents’ homes,” Caruana said.

The industrial castle-like building in which the Knockdown Center operates is more than a century old.

Owners redid some of the inside and installed new windows, but kept most of it original so as to preserve the structure.
The immediate neighborhood consists of other manufacturing buildings and residential apartments.

Musical events will be held in the center and owners plan to host a flea market every Sunday  from Oct. 20. Some feel the facility has potential.

“I’m not against it right now as it stands,” said Anthony Nunziato, chair of civic group Maspeth-Middle Village Task Force. “I like the structure. I just want to make sure it’s workable in the community. It’s a place that’s been vacant in the community for years. By right, they can take it down and turn it into condos.”

Gary Giordano, Community Board 5 district manager, said as of last week he had not received any complaints of past Knockdown Center events. Giordano did say that owners may need to take into account transportation, security and respect for the community for future events.

The center, which officials said has been operating under temporary permits, is in the process of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Buildings. Max attendance at past events was about 800 people, said Tyler Myers, Knockdown Center manager, but owners estimate it can hold 8,000 people.

“We are working with them to discover what a workable capacity would be for the building that we would also feel comfortable operating,” Myers said. “I think the Knockdown Center represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring something really unique and really special to Maspeth certainly, but also the New York community at large.”

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who also represents Maspeth, is in full support of the center, saying that it could bring economic growth.

“Manufacturing has been moving out of that area, a lot of those buildings are just warehouses and are not producing many jobs,” Crowley said. “I only see that it brings a benefit in creating good jobs.”

 

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