Knockdown Center liquor license OK'd with conditions

The Knockdown Center in Maspeth

After nearly two years of taking body blows from the community, the Knockdown Center finally landed a counterpunch.

The State Liquor Authority approved a liquor license for the controversial arts and entertainment venue at 52-19 Flushing Ave. in Maspeth, but with multiple conditions and stipulations.

The maximum capacity of the Knockdown Center must be reduced from 3,100 to 1,800, and only 12 full-capacity events can be held over the course of a year, down from 18 originally proposed. 

Venue owner David Sklar tried to persuade SLA commissioners Kevin Kim and Jeanique Greene to allow for a maximum capacity of 2,000 before being talked down to 1,800 by Greene.

Events with 1,000 or more attendees must only take place on Friday or Saturday nights and must be done by 2 a.m. All gatherings occurring between Sunday and Thursday must have fewer than 1,000 people and end by midnight.

Other stipulations include one security guard per every 75 guests and one additional 30-seat shuttle bus running constantly between the venue and the Jefferson Street L train station three-quarters of a mile away per every 500 attendees.

The list of over a dozen stipulations put forth in April by the Juniper Park Civic Association, Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together and Citizens for a Better Maspeth were also conditions added by the SLA.

The agency denied a liquor license for the center last May, citing overwhelming community opposition.

Community Board 5 voted 29-12 against issuing the Knockdown Center a license last Wednesday and District Manager Gary Giordano represented the advisory council at Tuesday's hearing in Manhattan.

Giordano emphasized that while the board's support for the venue had grown since last year's 40-0 vote, such a large venue serving alcohol in close proximity to residential streets was a poor idea.

"There is no benefit to the community. It's just a moneymaker," Giordano said emphatically. "We're going to have to live with any problems that occur there. Over 3,000 people under the influence of alcohol with a subway three-quarters of a mile away, I don't see anything sensible in that."

Greene and Kim mandated that the operators of the Knockdown Center return to the SLA for a review in six months.

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