Knockdown Center finds a partner 1

In addition to officially filing for a liquor license with the State Liquor Authority two weeks ago, the Knockdown Center has paired with the Queens Council on the Arts to study the possibility of artists taking up short-term residencies in the former factory.

The Knockdown Center’s application for a place of assembly permit for 5,000 persons has been turned down by the Buildings Department, Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano told the board during its Nov. 13 meeting.

“I sat down with them early on,” Giordano said. “I was really taken aback when [the Knockdown Center’s operators] said to me that they were looking for a permit to have that many people assemble there.”

The Knockdown Center, located at 52-19 Flushing Ave. in Maspeth, is no stranger to public skepticism and animosity. Board members and concerned citizens alike have all expressed outrage at the center’s workings in past months.

The arts center’s application for a 600-person liquor license came under fire last month from CB 5, which voted against granting it because the facility lacked a valid certificate of occupancy, agreeing with the board’s Land Use Committee.

Those concerned over the Knockdown Center’s place in the community allege that excessive drinking and loud parties occurring late into the night have been and will potentially continue to be problems in the neighborhood.

“I don’t want 5,000 people roaming into our neighborhood,” pleaded concerned Ridgewood resident Caitlin Shann during CB 5’s October meeting. “I don’t want 600 drunk people. They don’t care about Ridgewood. They don’t care about Maspeth.”

The denial of the assembly permit will not prevent the center from filing a new application for a different number of people.

Knockdown Center manager Tyler Myers decided not to comment on the matter when contacted by the Chronicle, only saying that the venue is “still reviewing options.”

“They have turned down their assembly permit at this stage of the game and it has been withdrawn for that many people,” Giordano said. “The fact that the New York State Liquor Authority application says just 600-plus when there could be 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 people, that’s something our state legislators have to deal with.”

Despite the latest blow to the former factory’s ability to host large gatherings such as dance parties and weddings, Giordano believes that the Knockdown Center has hardly been knocked out.

“I don’t believe we’ve seen the end of the Knockdown Center,” he said. “I’m not too particularly comfortable with the name Knockdown Center either; it doesn’t sound like they’re trying to do anything artsy.”

Newly re-elected 30th District Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) adamantly supported the Knockdown Center during her campaign against Republican challenger Craig Caruana.

She stated in an October debate that if the center receives all of the necessary documentation from the city, the venue could bring good jobs to the community.

“I look at the arts and film industry as an economic driver,” Crowley also told the Chronicle last month. “In the Bloomberg years, we’ve expanded the number of people working in that industry and I would love to grow that. I know they’re doing that at the Knockdown Center and I support it.”


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