Tag Archives: Knockdown Center

CB 5 splits again over liquor license for event at Maspeth arts venue

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com


Concerns over liquor license applications for events at Maspeth’s Knockdown Center continue to rise up for Community Board 5 (CB 5).

The Knockdown Center, located at 52-19 Flushing Ave., has been tapped by a catering company to host an architectural symposium where alcohol will be served. The event is scheduled to take place on Friday, Sept. 18, and will host a dinner for 250 guests from 8 to 10 p.m. and an after party for 1,000 people from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. the following morning.

The art venue was recently granted a liquor license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA), pending the Knockdown Center getting a valid certificate of occupancy (C of O). The Knockdown Center still has not received its valid C of O, so its liquor license is currently not in effect.

Because the Knockdown Center does not have its liquor license, the caterers — The Cleaver Company — wish to use their liquor license to allow alcohol to be sold at the one-day event.

“Caterers have a floating license because they do these types of events,” said CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri. “Because of the prior controversy and current situation with them not having a valid C of O, [The Cleaver Company] needed to get a letter of no objection from the community board.”

The architectural symposium would not be part of the limited number of events the Knockdown Center is allowed to hold outlined in the liquor license stipulations set forth by the SLA.

CB 5 members landed on both sides of the fence on whether to approve this request.

Several members thought that it may be a good idea to vote in favor of the temporary permit, arguing that this offered the Knockdown Center an opportunity to prove itself to the board.

Others, however, did not want to risk allowing this event to be held without the Knockdown Center having a valid C of O, and permitting an event to take place that would not count toward the agreed upon number of events with the SLA.

In the end, CB 5 voted against The Cleaver Company’s application, 24-15, with two abstaining votes. Even so, the SLA makes the final decision whether or not to approve the permit.


Maspeth’s Knockdown Center to premiere opera inspired by Hurricane Sandy victims

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Anna Groth Shive

Nearly three years after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of south Queens, music collective thingNY will be using a unique art form to explore the reactions of individuals affected by the superstorm.

The opera “This Takes Place Close By” will premiere at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth on Sept. 24 to 27 and will follow the lives of six individuals whose lives are completely changed after the natural disaster.

Formed in 2006, thingNY is a group of composer-performers who combine electronic and chamber music with opera, improvisation, theater, text, song and installation.

The collective’s latest opera will take the audience through five scenes that include a woman crushed under a building, a FEMA executive experiencing victimhood, a musician in the process of holding a relief concert and a shop owner who continues to rebuild storm after storm.

The collective hopes to address issues such as voyeurism, the anxiety of privilege and the emotional distance humans keep between themselves and disasters in the 50,000-square-foot space.

“This Takes Place Close By” will be directed by Ashley Tata and performed by Gelsey Bell, Andrew Livingston, Paul Pinto, Erin Rogers, Dave Ruder and Jeffrey Young. The opera takes place at 9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24, and 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25, through Sunday, Sept. 27.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. To purchase tickets online, visit the Knockdown Center website.


Maspeth’s Knockdown Center gets liquor license with limitations

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

After much debate within the community, the Knockdown Center in Maspeth finally got its liquor license Tuesday from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) — but the permit comes with several significant stipulations.

In an agreement brokered between the SLA and Knockdown Center representatives, the art venue at 52-19 Flushing Ave. will be permitted to serve alcohol to gatherings of between 1,000 and 1,800 people at up to 12 events annually. Tyler Myers of the Knockdown Center said in a phone interview Wednesday that after holding six large-scale events, the venue has the right to request that the SLA “relax” this stipulation.

These large gatherings must also take place on Friday or Saturday nights, according to Community Board 5 (CB 5) Chairman Vincent Arcuri.

Additionally, the Knockdown Center will be able to serve alcohol up to 60 times a year to gatherings of between 500 and 1,000, and another 60 times annually at events drawing up to 500 guests.

For several years, CB 5 — along with local civic groups and Maspeth residents — opposed the Knockdown Center’s attempts to obtain a liquor license, citing quality-of-life concerns related to large-scale events and the fact that the facility — formerly a glass factory — was encroaching on the industrial area.

In 2014, CB 5 voted unanimously to recommend denial of the Knockdown Center’s liquor license application. The SLA denied the first application, but the venue’s representatives reapplied for a license earlier this year. At its June 10 meeting, CB 5 again recommended denial of the revised application, but 12 members voted in favor of the permit this time around.

“The ruling is the ruling,” Arcuri said in an interview Wednesday. “The only question is what [the Knockdown Center] will do for the certificate of occupancy.”

The Knockdown Center submitted an application with the city Department of Buildings for a certificate of occupancy allowing a maximum of 3,100 people on the premises at any given time. Myers said the center is moving forward with that request, but noted it will abide by the terms of the liquor license permit.

“At every step, we’ve won more and more people over,” Myers said on Wednesday. “We are going to be art-focused and be good neighbors. We are willing to take future steps to prove ourselves to the community.”

The SLA agreement also requires that the Knockdown Center, located about 3/4-mile away from the nearest subway station, must also provide supplemental transportation services for its larger gatherings.


Community Board 5 votes against the Knockdown Center receiving a liquor license

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The Knockdown Center in Maspeth received another thumbs-down from Community Board 5 (CB 5) in its quest for a liquor license.

At CB 5’s Wednesday meeting at Middle Village’s Christ the King Regional High School, supporters and opponents of the art venue’s request for a liquor license stated their cases during the public forum before the board took a final vote. The board’s recommendation against the liquor license was forwarded to the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), which will hear the case on June 16.

Ted Renz, member of CB 5, spoke out against the Knockdown Center, located at 52-19 Flushing Ave., getting a liquor license on the basis that it is located within the Maspeth Industrial business zone (IBZ). By allowing the Knockdown Center to operate with a liquor license, Renz believes it will further damage the IBZ by encouraging other non-industrial institutions to move into IBZ spaces.

“Earlier this month, the Land Use Committee voted 6 to 2 to deny this request,” Renz said. “I want to urge you to vote with the Land Use Committee to not recommend this position.”

Jean Tanler, director of Industrial Business Development at the Business Outreach Center network and coordinator for Maspeth Industrial Business Association, wants to keep the Maspeth IBZ strictly for industrial use.

“New York City has a well-documented shortage of industrial land and inappropriate uses such as an entertainment venue with a liquor license, [spurring] the further loss of industrial manufacturing businesses to speculation,” Tanler said. “I respectfully urge the community board to deny the Knockdown Center’s application for a liquor license, since it would create a competing commercial use in a designated IBZ and undermine the city’s industrial policy.”

Michael Merck, co-director of the Knockdown Center, supported the center’s stance on getting a liquor license.

“Since August of 2012, we’ve hosted over 50 events, projects and exhibitions on temporary permits which in turn support the work of nearly 1,000 individuals and organizations. The reality of all this is that all of our exhibitions and many of our events are free to the public,” Merck said. “And all of our community events, fundraisers, etcetera are free to the presenting organizations, but the cost to us is a minimum of several thousand dollars, with our budgets for special projects often exceeding $10,000.”

Merck believes that a liquor license would allow the Knockdown Center to recuperate some of those funds, and allow the institution to provide even more special projects and events to be shared with the community.

Gianna Cerbone Teoli, president of the board of trustees of the Queens Council on the Arts, believes the Knockdown Center can become a hub of arts and culture in the Maspeth area.

“Understand that you have the power to make this into a positive entity for culture and arts,” Teoli told the members of the board. “The 104th Precinct, there’s no speculation upon this, they’ve actually said that they have handled the first three events amazingly with no problems whatsoever … you have a group of people here with a passion beyond belief for bringing artists from other areas and they are paying for them to come into their facility.”

In the end, the board voted 29-12 in favor of the Land Use Committee’s recommendation against the Knockdown Center’s liquor license application.

Elections for executive committee positions on the board were also held during the meeting. All members of the executive committee retained their positions. Patricia Grayson, Fred Haller, John Maier and Ted Renz were all elected as members-at-large for the board.


Knockdown Center continues push for liquor license

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

Continuing their quest for a liquor license, representatives of the Knockdown Center in Maspeth made their case directly to Community Board 5 (CB 5) during the advisory body’s Wednesday meeting in Middle Village.

Last year, the Knockdown Center was denied an application for a liquor license by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA). Since that time, the Knockdown Center has been working hard to adjust their request and gain community support, even as local elected officials and civic leaders remain opposed.

“In the year since that denial, we’ve been able to audition our operational strategy and received much more support as a result,” said Tyler Myers, co-director of the Knockdown Center.

That support came in the form of a letter, dated Jan. 6, to the SLA by the 104th Precinct’s former commanding officer, Capt. Christopher Manson. In the letter, Manson noted that the Knockdown Center has been in regular contact with the 104th Precinct and “has repeatedly proven their ability to host several thousand guests with minimal impact to the precinct and the community.”

“We have performed overt and covert surveillance of the events held at Knockdown Center and have not observed any unlawful or inappropriate activity,” Manson wrote.

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The letter also mentions that security at the center has kept contraband from entering the facility, owner of the Knockdown Center, David Sklar, monitoring noise levels during events, as well as maintaining a smooth traffic flow of vehicles and pedestrians outside of the facility.

“Throughout 2014, the Knockdown Center has proven their ability to successfully and safely host large events and have proven genuine desire to maintain the quality of life of area residents,” Manson wrote. “There is now a strong, working relationship between Knockdown Center and the 104th Precinct which could be used as a model for all licensed premises, and I have no opposition to their application to the Authority for a liquor license.”

The new commander of the 104th Precinct, Capt. Mark Wachter, reportedly echoed Manson’s “no opposition” stance after speaking with Myers and Sklar.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET); Robert Holden, president of Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA); and Christina Wilkinson, president of Citizens for a Better Maspeth, also wrote a letter to the SLA asking for certain stipulations to be included if they decide to grant the Knockdown Center a liquor license.

They ask that civics, CB 5, the 104th Precinct and neighbors on 54th Street be notified of all events that will take place at the center with the number of people expected to attend; that security be present for all events with 600 or more attendees; that a shuttle bus be available for events with an expected attendance of 200 or more; and that for events numbering 800 or more guests, additional shuttle buses will be hired to make stops at L and M train stations, as well as several others.

“We are here tonight to ask the board to reconsider your original opposition in light of our record over the last year and the new stipulations we agreed to operate under,” Myers said. “We do not take the responsibility we ask for lightly and we do not take the community it is in for granted.”

Vincent Arcui, CB 5 chairperson, said the board would take the presentation as a formal request and will hand it over to the Land Use Services Committee to discuss and report back to the Executive Committee with their recommendation after their meeting. The Executive Committee will then take action.

The next SLA meeting for the Knockdown Center’s liquor license application is slated for June 2.


Local pol opposes liquor license for Maspeth’s Knockdown Center

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center in Maspeth again seeks a full liquor license — and again faces strong opposition from a local politician and Community Board 5.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan wrote a letter to State Liquor Authority (SLA) Commissioners Jeanique Greene and Kevin Kim asking them to deny the new liquor license application from the arts venue at 52-19 Flushing Ave. during a recertification hearing held on Tuesday.

The SLA did not make a decision on the matter at the hearing; it will be considered again at its June session.

In the letter, Nolan wrote, “The community board and the Maspeth community have very serious concerns that their quality of life will be seriously diminished if this establishment is granted a liquor license. I support and strongly endorse their concerns and would ask that your agency once again reject the application at the recertification hearing.”

During their March 12, 2014, monthly meeting, Community Board 5 (CB 5) unanimously voted in opposition to granting the Knockdown Center a liquor license.

“Our position has not changed since we made our recommendation last year,” said CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano in an interview Wednesday.

Nolan went on to explain why she feels the Knockdown Center should not be granted a liquor license.

She noted that the center is currently located in the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone (IBZ), making the area better suited for a manufacturing or industrial business. The zoning was created to provide financial incentives to businesses that went into manufacturing. The Knockdown Center was previously a door factory.

“A study by the New York Industrial Retention Center supports this reasoning and claims that commercial businesses like the Knockdown Center can disrupt and ultimately lead to a breakdown of the zones,” Nolan wrote. “As a supporter of the IBZ, I would be very concerned by this proposed outcome.”

Nolan also mentioned that the center has repeatedly applied for a place of assembly permit to have as many as 5,000 people at their events, which could lead to hundreds, and possibly thousands, of visitors traveling through the community.

“With only three bus lines and a considerable distance from the train, the added volume of people will further strain the already limited transportation options residents have in Maspeth and the surrounding communities in Queens,” she said.

Nolan cited the Knockdown Center’s previous events where large groups of people gathered in the area, which has several residential homes and apartments. One such event took place on Nov. 11, 2014, when the Knockdown Center held a concert.

“Throughout the night, there were both large crowds present, customers sitting on stoops of nearby homes and allegedly public urination in the streets,” Nolan said. “Several residents called in noise complaints that were filed with the city’s 311 system.”


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup


Wednesday: Sunshine and a few clouds. High 67. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Cloudy skies early, then off and on rain showers overnight. Low 52. Winds S at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Citizens’ Climate Lobby

The Queens-Nassau chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby will hold its monthly meeting at 6: 30 p.m. at Panera Bread in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. Join us and help create the political will for a stable climate. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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The Knockdown Center took a straight right to the chin courtesy of the State Liquor Authority (SLA). The SLA denied the Maspeth arts center’s license application at a full board hearing Tuesday. Read more: The Queens Courier

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The New York senate passed a bill that would make yogurt the state’s official snack, but not without a surprisingly spirited debate Tuesday evening. Read more: NBC New York

Pedestrian fatalities in city decreased by one-third during first four months of 2014

The number of pedestrians hit and killed by cars dropped by a third in the first four months of 2014, data obtained by the Daily News show. Read more: New York Daily News

Federal report: climate change is upon us

Climate change is a very real problem, according to a new federal report called the National Climate Assessment. Read more: CBS New York/AP

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The unidentified remains of those killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 are set to be moved to a repository at ground zero this weekend, renewing a more than decade-long debate among grieving family members about the best final resting place for their loved ones. Read more: AP


Knockdown center denied liquor license

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

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The Knockdown Center took a straight right to the chin courtesy of the State Liquor Authority (SLA).

The SLA denied the Maspeth arts center’s license application at a full board hearing Tuesday. The center had applied for a cabaret class license, which would have allowed the it to serve liquor at events that have “musical entertainment” for 600 or more people.

“This is a vital step in preserving residents’ quality of life and maintaining the needed level of neighborhood safety,” said state Sen. Joseph Addabbo. “I will continue to fight to keep our homes and streets a safe haven when it comes to the Knockdown Center as well as any other establishment threatening our way of life. I look forward to an open dialogue regarding the future of this site.”

The center applied for the license despite heavy opposition from Community Board 5, neighborhood leaders and politicians, who feared that it would negatively impact the community.

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties, a mini-golf art exhibition and, most recently, a flea market. Owners also want to host art classes, concerts and large exhibits in the future.

In a letter in March following the application, the community board cited several reasons why they don’t want the center to have the liquor license, including extra pressure it will put on the 104th Precinct during events, the possible influx of vehicular traffic and problems it could bring to nearby residences.

Representatives from the center didn’t return calls for comment as of print time.



Despite setbacks, Maspeth Knockdown Center determined to host events

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center is not backing down.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) recently reviewed and disapproved the center’s plan for a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PA) on October 24, but Knockdown’s manager said they will tweak their proposal until it meets regulations.

The PA is required for a site that seeks to have 75 or more people gathered indoors or more than 200 outside.

“We are committed to ensuring we have the optimal building plan from the DOB perspective, and have found the plan reviews very helpful, and believe that our plans will be approved soon,” said Tyler Myers, the center’s manager.

The Knockdown 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.

The center became a hot controversial community issue after a representative announced they were considering applying for a license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol at future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

At the Community Board 5 October meeting, the Land Use Committee rejected granting a liquor license for the center, although Knockdown could still make a case to the SLA for the license.

Residents and politicians in the community are split on the center, some feeling that it could bring jobs and is a good use of the more than century-year old building. Others believe it will create a club environment in a neighborhood where many residents live.

“There is some evidence of people being carried out, a lot of evidence of people partying and loud music, and there is evidence of love making right in the open,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“We’re concerned that it will lower the quality of life.”




Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.