The sparring match between the Knockdown Center and the community over the arts and entertainment venue’s liquor license application is over, for now, with the opposing residents and elected officials winning by way of knockout.
The State Liquor Authority denied the cabaret liquor license application from the Knockdown Center, the controversial former factory at 52-19 Flushing Ave. in Maspeth, on Tuesday afternoon, with the overwhelming community opposition to the venue cited as the main reason for denial.
“We have gotten strong community opposition from all corners,” SLA chairman Dennis Rosen said. “As far as we know, they did not change their position.”
Unlike the April 22 hearing, when oral arguments for and against the license were given and the vote was tabled, Knockdown Center manager Tyler Myers was present for the decision.
The venue’s operators, represented by attorney Terence Flynn, promised at Tuesday’s hearing to cut the building’s capacity from 5,000 people to 3,100 and testified that only around a quarter of the events would be large, ticketed gatherings, but the pledge was not put in writing and the board was not swayed.
Continued community opposition from elected officials such as state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and area civic groups proved to be too much for the SLA to ignore in making its decision.
Those representatives, including Addabbo and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside), who have rallied against the Knockdown Center for the last six months, applauded the SLA’s decision.
“I would like to thank the State Liquor Authority for listening to the concerns my constituents and I had regarding the Knockdown Center,” Addabbo said in a statement later Tuesday afternoon. “This is a vital step in preserving residents’ quality of life and maintaining the needed level of neighborhood safety.”
Nolan called the decision a “great victory for our community and for many groups including Community Board 5, the 104th Precinct and the many Maspeth residents who expressed serious concerns about this establishment.”
Community Board 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri stopped short of calling the decision a victory, but he did thank the SLA for considering the community opposition.
“I think the SLA was very responsive to the community’s concerns,” Arcuri said. “I think the next step is that we should work with the Economic Development Corporation to help the property owner continue the facility as an industrial site.”
In addition to area opposition, Rosen also expressed uneasiness about the lack of late-night public transportation in the area around the Knockdown Center. The handful of buses that operate in the area don’t run often after midnight and it is a nearly one-mile walk to the closest subway station.
According to a spokesman for Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), she still supports the arts venue, but declined to comment on the SLA’s decision.
“She continues to support the Knockdown Center as a cultural institution,” the statement read. “She believes that it is the responsibility of the SLA to decide whether or not to issue a liquor license, and defers to their judgment.”
A request for comment from Myers was not answered by press time.