Controversial Rock and Roll Playhouse Could Receive Green Light

By Nikhita Venugopal on April 1, 2014 7:45pm 

Slideshow
 Renderings for the proposed Rock and Roll Playhouse at 280 Bond St.
Rock and Roll Playhouse
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GOWANUS — A controversial bar and children’s music center still has a chance to open despite opposition from local residents, according to a representative from the Department of Buildings.

The Board of Standards and Appeals held its second public hearing on Tuesday for the Rock and Roll Playhouse, a center that plans to offer daytime music classes for kids and evening jazz and theatrical performances for adults at 280 Bond St.

The DOB upheld the Gowanus site’s “non-conforming use” zoning status — a legal exception that would allow the Playhouse to be built and run in the residential district, city representative Amandus Derr said Tuesday.

The city issued permits for the Playhouse last year but agreed to review evidence in January from We Are Gowanus, the neighborhood group opposed to the project, to determine whether the zoning status should be revoked or not.

“[T]he Department has determined that [We Are Gowanus] has not submitted sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the non-conforming use has discontinued for a continuous period of two years or more,” a letter from the DOB to the BSA said.

Owners of the site claim that a heating and plumbing company has operated at the Bond Street address for years.

But evidence shows that minimal business activity had been conducted at the site for several years — a fact that should forced the DOB to revoke the non-conforming status, according to Jack Lester, the residents’ attorney.

The board asked the owner’s attorney to submit additional records to prove the business’s legitimacy.

Residents also fear that the Playhouse will disturb their quiet neighborhood.

“We’ve sunk our life savings into our home,” said Katya Jestin, a resident and member of the group. “It is a quiet residential tree-lined block where we are raising our children.”

The BSA is still reviewing the Playhouse's case, and a final decision is yet to come.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 20.

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