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Central Park West Wine Bar Not Corked Yet, Owner Says

By Leslie Albrecht | March 23, 2011 3:07pm | Updated on March 24, 2011 12:03pm

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — A city agency has dealt a blow to plans to open a wine bar in a ritzy Central Park West building, but the bar's backer says he'll keep fighting to open the controversial vino venue.

"This is not going to be dropped," said Greg Hunt, who got a bitter reception from tenants in 25 Central Park West when he first floated his wine bar idea last summer.

Hunt insisted he wanted to open an upscale venue for a well-heeled clientele, but residents vehemently fought the bar, saying it would bring rowdy crowds and noise to their quiet block.

The battle grew so intense that residents in 25 Central Park West and neighboring 15 Central Park West — a luxury high-rise where an apartment was recently listed for $25 million, according to Curbedhired lobbyists to make their case to Community Board 7, as did Hunt's team.

The community board approved Hunt's request for a liquor license in July.

But the Department of Buildings issued a ruling this week that sides with 25 Central Park West tenants, who fought the proposed wine bar on the grounds that it violated zoning rules, Hunt said.

"Our side in general is just outraged by this decision, as every New Yorker should be," Hunt said. "This is a relatively small group of affluent, well-connected people that have dictated to the city what should go into this space and they’ve completely overruled the will of the community."

Hunt said he felt the DOB decision was influenced by "political pressure" from 25 Central Park West residents.

Louis Solomon, a board member at 25 Central Park West, said he and other board members were happy with the DOB decision.

"The wine bar never had the support of the building, and in my mind, it never had the support of the neighborhood, so of course we’re pleased that the DOB came to the right conclusion," Solomon said.

He said board members looked forward to filling the space where Hunt wanted to open the wine bar with doctor's offices or a similar use.

Hunt called the DOB decision a "job killer" that will cost 35 to 40 jobs and rob the Upper West Side of a needed amenity.

Hunt said he wants to open "the most gorgeous, upscale wine bar in the city" on the ground floor of 25 Central Park West, a vacant space that most recently held a Gristedes.

Hunt said he hasn't given up that dream, and he's reviewing options on what to do next. "This is a case of David vs. Goliath, and Goliath won," Hunt said.