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Public Safety & Quality of Life

47-49 West 20th Street aka656 Sixth Avenue (at 20th Street) - "Flatiron Entertainment, LLC" - (formerly "Avalon," "Limelight"), application for renewal of on-premises liquor license

WHEREAS, Flat Iron Entertainment, LLC d/b/a "Avalon" (formerly "The Limelight") is applying for renewal of their on-premises liquor license at 47-49 West 20th Street a/k/a 656 6th Avenue; and

WHEREAS, This individually-landmarked building, in an historic district, has been allowed to deteriorate over the years into deplorable condition; and

WHEREAS, For over two decades, residents, property owners and businesses have suffered from the extreme noise, vehicular congestion, belligerent crowds, litter, traffic problems, pedestrian concentration, as well as vandalism, incidents of violence and general disorder that accompany this high density of liquor licensed establishments; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five recognized the hardship the residents endured for over two decades as this neighborhood evolved from a light-manufacturing district with a special permit for residential use into a predominantly residential neighborhood and opposed the granting of a new on-premises liquor license in 2001 for Flatiron Entertainment due to the size of the premises and the impact the high volume of vehicles and the number of patrons would have on the neighborhood; and

WHEREAS, This area has been rezoned as "as-of-right residential" resulting in at least a tripling of residential dwellings; and

WHEREAS, Despite the community board's objection, a liquor license was issued in 2001 as a result of a 500 ft. Hearing, according to the SLA, "specifically because of the reputation of one of the principals, John Blair," who, among other reasons, had ties to the community and claimed the need to serve a "diverse" community; and

WHEREAS, Section 111 of the ABC Law reads: "A license issued to any person, pursuant to chapter one hundred eighty of the laws of nineteen hundred thirty-three or this chapter, for any licensed premises shall not be transferable to any other person or to any other premises or to any other part of the building containing the licensed premises except in the discretion of the authority.  It shall be available only to the person therein specified, and only for the premises licensed and no other except if authorized by the authority;" and

WHEREAS, John Blair is no longer a principal and has no ties at all to Flat Iron Entertainment, LLC, and the original principals listed in 2001 have since changed 100%: and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five believes this "change of ownership" goes against the spirit and/or intent of the law and is really a "transfer in disguise" that prevented the community board from having any input or information regarding the new owners and more importantly circumvented the "500 Foot Hearing" that would have afforded the board and the community the opportunity to opine if treated as a transfer; and

WHEREAS, The applicant and it's representative were not forthcoming in response to basic questions presented by the committee, i.e., matters of ownership and management; and

WHEREAS, For many years the existence of a liquor license at this location has negatively impacted the quality of life on 20th Street and the surrounding area; with a sustained and continuing pattern of noise, disturbance, misconduct and disorder in the licensed premises, and in front of or adjacent to the licensed premises, which has adversely affected the health, welfare and safety of the inhabitants of the area in which the licensed premises are located; and

WHEREAS, This location, one of the largest venues in CB5 with a total of  20,000 square feet and an approximate capacity of 1,800 to 2,000 as per the applicant, has been reports of drug dealing and violence; and

WHEREAS, CB 5 has been on record with the State Liquor Authority (SLA) that, no matter who held the liquor license, this location has been one of the worst problem locations in the neighborhood, in fact in the entire CB 5 district; and

WHEREAS, The police precinct (13th) has been on record that this has been one of the worst problem locations in their precinct (see attached); and

WHEREAS, There are over 130 liquor licensed establishments in the Flat Iron area; and 

WHEREAS, The police estimate that this neighborhood is getting 30,000 people over an extended weekend, 10,000 nightly; and

WHEREAS, According to police records, there has been a 44% increase in crime within the Flatiron District club zone in the last year; and

WHEREAS, The demographics of this area have changed with a dramatic residential increase:

4 West 21st Street                                   

New - 54 dwellings

52 West 22nd Street                                

Conversion/New - 5 dwelling units(currently on the market)

141 Fifth Avenue                                       

Conversion - 40 (approx) dwelling units


35 West 21st Street/38 W 22               

Under Construction - 109 dwelling units


30 West 21st Street                                 

Conversion - 18 dwelling units


52 West 21st Street                                 

Renovation - 4 dwelling units

16 West 21st Street                                 

Demolition/New Constr. - 14 Story residential building


160 Fifth Avenue                                       

Sold Dec 2005 - plans unknown


8-14 West 22nd St. and7-13 West 21st St.
Rezoned in 2004/05 - Up to 311 dwelling units

RESOLVED, That since the original 2001 license was issued because of the reputation of one principal, John Blair, Community Board Five opposes the renewal of the on-premises liquor license for 47 West 20th Street a/k/a 656 Sixth Avenue, Flat Iron Entertainment LLC d/b/a "Avalon," on the grounds that when the ownership was completely changed (specifically the departure of John Blair), the application should have been considered a transfer, prompting a 500 Foot Hearing; and be it further

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five opposes the renewal also due to the size of these premises, the number of patrons and the high volume of vehicles that are negatively impacting this neighborhood; and be it further

RESOLVED, For all of the above reasons, Community Board Five recommends that this license be revoked and a Proscription be placed on the premises, prohibiting the issuance of a liquor license for any part of the licensed premises at 656 Sixth Avenue aka 47-49 West 20th Street.

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