We'll have a a full rundown of last night's Community Board 2 meeting later today, but first, a few of the big developments:
The Spotted Pig team did not present their proposal for their new Bleecker Street restaurant last night — their application was laid over prior to the meeting. But, Stephen Starr, the mega-restaurateur from Philly, appeared before the board again last night on behalf of his project planned for the old Paris Commune space. And things did not go as smoothly as he had hoped they would.
Although he did put forth an effort to reach out to the community as he was instructed to do by the board last month, his new restaurant was still met with much resistance. Over the course of two hours, 30 people got up to speak about the fate of the restaurant.
The neighbors are still worried about the fact that this will be a destination restaurant, not a neighborhood joint. Although some were excited about the idea of having a successful restaurant go into that space, they worry that with Mr. Starr’s name attached, the noise, traffic congestion, and closing hours will be a problem. His proposal to move the entrance of the restaurant from Bank to Bethune made some happy while riling up others. Plus, Starr intends to increase the restaurants occupancy from 106 to 137 which the community thought would overwhelm the neighborhood.
A group representing the Residents for Responsible Restaurants in the West Village – those NIMBYs that were out earlier this week trying to prevent Starr from taking over the space – were present. With 337 petitions against the new project, they gave the board cause for concern.
The co-op shareholders pleaded their case in support of Mr. Starr, pointing out that he is a respected restaurateur and understands how to respect a neighborhood; not all of his restaurants follow the Buddakan model. The King of Philly tried to reassure the community saying “This is a restaurant. I’m a restaurateur,” and asked that he be judged for this project for what it is, not what else he’s done.
The board stated that while they respect Starr as a restaurateur, they have some major concerns about the traffic flow in the congested area with a bus route on Bethune Street. It was not a unanimous vote (one board member is in favor of the new spot), but the board voted on a recommendation for denial of their application.
But that's not to say the project is dead in the water. Starr may fare better with the full board in the coming weeks.
— Claire Nugent