Back in May, when the Observer reported that Cole Miller, a potential restaurateur and wine bar owner on Gramercy Park, had won approval from the local community board to go ahead and get his liquor license, we thought he had achieved the impossible. Why? Because the most hardcore NIMBY group in the city, the residents and key holders around the only gated private park in New York, came out in force to protest his project, and only won them over after he hired three of the biggest traffic experts in the city to show that the restaurant won't cause traffic congestion around the park.
Well, maybe not. In a press release today, the neighbors announce that the higher ups at the State Liquor Authority went ahead and denied the application anyway, after neighbors sent in hundreds of letters begging them to do the right thing. The neighbors contend that the bar has the "potential to undermine the historic residential character of the community," and cited the original 1831 Gramercy Park Indenture which restricted any properties being used for businesses that were “offensive to the neighboring inhabitants.” And what could be more offensive than a small wine bar? See the press release below.
New York NY – (January 7, 2011) – On Thursday, January 6, 2011, State Liquor Authority
Chairman Dennis Rosen and his fellow SLA Commissioners, Noreen Healey and Jeanique Greene, by unanimous vote denied the application for a Restaurant Wine license for 38 Gramercy LLC, a wine bar that was planned to open at 38 Gramercy Park North.
The SLA decision was a victory for hundreds of Gramercy Park neighbors who worked for 12 months registering their opposition to the wine bar proposed for 38 Gramercy Park North, a residential Lot Owner building where no previous bar license has existed. Those efforts, including hundreds of letters sent to the Commission, paid off. The Commissioners quoted from some of the letters during the discussion. They also carefully considered each of the points of concern raised by the community regarding the proposed bar, including extreme traffic congestion on Gramercy Park North (East 21st St), between Park Avenue South and Third Avenue, the block where the wine bar was to be located in the basement of 38 Gramercy Park North.
Chairman Rosen spoke movingly of the historic, residential character of the Gramercy Park neighborhood and added that the uniqueness of the neighborhood was one of the factors that led him to conclude that “a bar at 38 Gramercy Park North would not be in the public interest.”
In the original 1831 Gramercy Park Indenture, Samuel B. Ruggles imposed certain restrictions on the Lot Owners, designed to preserve the properties directly facing the Park as a dedicated residential neighborhood, including restrictions on any properties being used for businesses that were “offensive to the neighboring inhabitants.”
Neighborhood objections to the opening of a wine bar on the narrow, one lane residential side street, included its potential to undermine the historic residential character of the community, aggravating the already existing serious traffic congestion, public safety and quality of life problems the neighbors on Gramercy Park North and NYPD have been contending with for years.
“Today's victory was a wonderful example of what is possible when our community comes together and speaks in one clear voice about the issues that affect us all. It was made possible by the dedication and hard work of literally hundreds of neighbors over the past year. Indeed, every one who sent a letter, signed a petition, attended a Community Board meeting, testified, volunteered time or donated money to this worthy cause, can take pride in today's victory for Gramercy Park and the Ruggles Indenture of 1831,” said Arlene Harrison, President of The Gramercy Park Block Association, and a Trustee of Gramercy Park. Harrison spoke as a member of The Gramercy Park Residents Group, a group formed specifically to oppose the bar proposed for 38 Gramercy Park North.
· Gramercy Restaurateur Overcomes Bellicose NIMBY Group [~ENY~]