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Boxers' Fate to Be Decided on Wednesday

By Mathew Katz | February 14, 2012 8:47am | Updated on February 15, 2012 7:23pm

HELL'S KITCHEN — After months of controversy, the State Liquor Authority will finally make a decision on a liquor license application for Boxers' controversial Hell's Kitchen location on Wednesday.

Since the summertime, the gay sports bar has drawn ire from locals for wanting to open a new location at 766 10th Ave., which is right next to P.S. 111's schoolyard and across the street from Sacred Heart of Jesus School.

The decision will be made by the State Liquor Authority's Full Board at their meeting on Wed. Feb. 15, and opponents have vowed to bring their biggest crowd of angry neighbors yet.

Boxers also plans to rally supporters, sending word about the meeting out on its Facebook page.

According to the SLA's briefing on the meeting, State Senator Tony Avella and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal are against the bar.

Boxers already has a popular location at 37 W. 20th St., where neighbors say they're exemplary bar operators. Opponents of the bar have long said they don't mind having a gay bar in the neighborhood, just not next to a school.

The authority currently prohibits a bar from opening within 200 feet of a school on the same street.
Owners Bob Fluet and Robert Hynds currently plan to divide the building up, so that Boxers faces 10th Avenue, and build a separate, alcohol-free taco shop on the West 52nd Street side — so that Boxers would be exempt from the so-called 200-foot rule.
Boxers argued that because it does not violate the 200-foot rule, its proximity to the school cannot be a reason to deny them a license.

The Boxers saga has shifted in recent months, when the bar's owners shifted its entrance further north to skirt the SLA's 500 foot rule.

The new entrance puts the bar outside of 500 feet of three other bars, and under SLA guidelines the license must be approved unless the authority finds good cause not to issue it.

Neighbors and block associations are hoping to give the SLA that reason — that the schoolyard-adjacent location isn't right for any bar. In October, Community Board 4 voted to ask the SLA to deny the bar's license for that reason.

The stakes are high for Boxers' owners as well. Fluet and Hynds have sunk thousands of dollars into the project, and the building's landlord, Croman Realty, is asking for upwards of $35,000 a month for the space.

The Full Board Meeting of the State Liquor Authority will take place on Wed. Feb. 15 at 10 a.m. at the SLA's Office at 317 Lenox Ave.

An earlier version of this article cited an SLA memorandum which listed State Senator Tom Duane as in support of Boxers' HK's liquor license. That memorandum was in error: Duane is not in favor of the bar's Hell's Kitchen location.