In somewhat predictable but still discouraging news, Community Board 3 last night rejected Todd Patrick and Phil Hartman’s proposal for a restaurant/performance space at 34 Avenue A.
In March, Patrick and Hartman proposed turning the former Mo Pitkin’s space into a Mexican restaurant/avant-garde performance venue. After CB3 struck down their plans, the pair returned to the drawing board. Last week, they appeared before CB3’s SLA committee to make the case for Piney Woods, a Southern restaurant and performance space. The committee was split in its decision, and left the matter to be decided by CB3’s full board.
But, as EV Grieve reports, CB3 wasn’t having any of it, and so Patrick and Hartman — the latter of whom has been an East Village business owner for decades — were rejected. For months, there has been talk that the building’s landlord has been entertaining a couple of banks and 7-Eleven as prospective tenants; last week, a reliable source confirmed these rumors for us.
While we are no fans of irresponsible bar owners and the braying, vomiting hordes they attract to the neighborhood, we find ourselves perplexed by CB3’s refusal to support a respected local business owner whose proposed venue, as Patrick told us, would not be “a rowdy club” or one of a “gauntlet of bars where you can get Jell-O shots.” Unlike, say, Superdive, the 13th Step, and Billy Hurricane’s, all of which received the board’s blessings and have proven to be huge headaches for the neighborhood.
In an ideal world, East Village rents would still be low enough to support a diverse retail and service environment, with independent bookstores, cinemas, locksmiths, hardware stores, independent drugstores, and secondhand boutiques whose price tags didn’t match those at Barney’s. But given that landlords are businesspeople whose main concern is, unfortunately, cash, we’re basically left with the choice of an empty building, a bank/Subway/7-Eleven, or an establishment run by somebody who knows better than to shit where he sleeps. A licensed establishment is not inherently bad for the neighborhood, but the inability to differentiate between those applying for licenses is.