INWOOD — Inwood residents are mounting a campaign against a proposed bar and grill at the northern edge of the neighborhood, saying that plans for the space will amount to nothing more than a noisy nightclub in their backyard.
An open letter campaign was posted throughout Inwood on lampposts and payphones calling on the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to deny AJK 425 Corp.'s liquor license application for a new establishment at 425 W. 218th St., between Broadway and Ninth Avenue.
"A Bar and Grill on a commercial block that is secluded, by close to an upscale residential area with a school nearby, does not belong in an area such as this,” reads a letter addressed to the SLA Chairman Dennis Rosen by Inwood resident Gerard Dominach.
Opponents of the plan voiced first voiced concerns that the establishment planned by AJK 425 Corp. would exacerbate quality of life issues like noise and traffic congestions after learning of the plan at a community board meeting earlier this month.
“It seems like asking for a full liquor license there is asking for a lot of problems,” said Inwood resident Barry Hoice, 32, who lives on Broadway near the proposed restaurant.
“They hardly patrol the streets up here, in the summer it’s a nightmare how many cars and motorcycles come here to party,” said Hoice, who has lived in Inwood for 15 year. “How are the cops going to patrol that street in a real way? It’s too out-of-the-way.”
The proposed restaurant would be situated in an area that is otherwise filled with car washes, garages, the MTA’s bus depot and a city sanitation yard. A video shot by Dominach shows the area at night.
Neighbors also say they are concerned that the restaurant’s location next to a dangerous intersection on Broadway might exacerbate an already challenging traffic problem.
Up until recently, a roving party made up of a caravan of cars, motorcycles and vans took to hosting late night parties along the Harlem River near the site of the proposed restaurant. It took police several years of blockading the nearby streets to push the party out of the area.
“I see the potential for disaster here,” Dominach said when it was presented to Community Board 12’s economic development committee earlier this month. “A bar and grill has not business being there. This is a magnet for problems.”
The restaurant owners said they plan to run a restaurant, not nightclub, which will serve area workers and added they hope to bring new business to otherwise desolate strip.
“You don’t want to have it in a residential area, but on the other hand you don’t want it in a commercial area,” owner Juan Reyes said. “Which is it?”
CB12’s economic development committee voted to recommend the full board OK the business owner’s liquor license application during its general meeting on Tuesday, March 27, after asking the owners to agree to an earlier closing time of 2 a.m. on weekends.
The 34th Precinct asked to waive its opinion of the plan until the general meeting once it conducts an examination of the establishment.
The SLA has final say in the matter as community boards serve an advisory role.