Controversial Avenue A Bar Space for Rent

By Patrick Hedlund on August 5, 2011 6:50am 

The owner of 34 Avenue A is trying to rent the one-time problem bar.
The owner of 34 Avenue A is trying to rent the one-time problem bar.
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EAST VILLAGE — A controversial former bar space on Avenue A is courting a new tenant after a recent bid to relaunch the property as a music venue was shot down.

A "for rent" sign went up Wednesday at 34 Avenue A, near East Third Street, which was most recently home to the much-maligned bar Aces & Eights, EV Grieve reported.

After Community Board 3 rejected two attempts by local businessman Phil Hartman and music promoter Todd Patrick to secure a liquor license for a planned performance space at the site, the building’s landlord decided to search for a new tenant to take over the seemingly cursed address.

“We don’t think you can get a liquor license at this point because of so much negative history,” said Debra Stelnik, a broker for Coldwell Banker, noting her client is growing desperate to bring in a new tenant.

The building’s owner, listed in public records as Monty Karp Realty LLC, is leasing the ground-floor and basement spaces, but not the second floor, the broker noted. The asking price is $16,000 per month for both floors, including a full kitchen located in the basement.

The address formerly housed Hartman’s performance venue Mo Pitkin’s before giving way to the now-closed Aces & Eights, which was shuttered last year for operating without the proper permits.

Hartman and Patrick’s planned venture, touted as a venue that would host avant-garde and experimental music, failed to earn support from community board due to its plan to serve alcohol and keep late-night hours.

“We think maybe a health food or vegetarian restaurant would work the best,” Stelnik said, noting the site’s adverse history will greatly limit the types of tenants who can move in.

“The landlord wants something nice and upscale. She doesn’t want a frat bar,” the broker added. “She wants the neighborhood to be happy with the kind of tenant she brings in.”

The space is already outfitted with a bar and would lend itself to a liquor-serving establishment like a wine bar, Stelnik said, if the new tenant could secure a beer-and-wine license.

But given the property’s negative track record — plus the fact that any request for a liquor license would need overwhelming support from the community because it lies in in a resolution area — it would seem highly unlikely that the establishment would be cleared to sell booze.

Stelnik said she will explain this history to any prospective tenants — a few have already inquired about the address — but that the goal is to ink a deal as soon as possible.

“We’re wasting no time,” she said. “We want to do a deal.”

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