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Gowanus Shuffleboard Club Withdraws Liquor License Application

GOWANUS — Plans to open New York's first shuffleboard club in Gowanus hit a snag Monday night when locals worried about rowdy crowds forced the club to withdraw its liquor license application with Community Board 6.

The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club was seeking approval from Community Board 6's public safety committee for a booze permit for a 17,000 square-foot indoor shuffleboard club at 514 Union St. between Nevins Street and Third Avenue.

Despite shuffleboard's reputation as a sedate game favored by the senior set, neighbors near 514 Union worry the club — which could hold as many as 500 customers — will overwhelm their block with drunken, noisy revelers.

Some Community Board 6 members agreed with the concerns, and suggested a compromise that would have the club limit its patrons to 300, provide transport to the subway, and add noise-reducing buffers to a planned roof deck.

Before the board could vote, representatives for Royal Palms withdrew their application, saying they would come back at a future meeting. They said they're hoping neighbors' fears will be calmed after they hire an experienced general manager to run the facility.

Royal Palms co-owner Jonathan Schnapp said he was "upset" by the outcome, because he and co-owner Ashley Albert feel they've worked hard to address neighbors' concerns at several meetings with local residents.

"We've compromised and sacrificed and nobody really seemed interested in compromises," Schnapp said. "We thought that we'd already made a bunch of compromises and we're still hoping to make even more compromises, if somebody would just tell us what those were."

Schnapp said he and Albert have worked with consultants to develop plans to address security, parking, noise and other potential problems, but that neighbors "aren't taking those solutions seriously."

The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club will have 40 shuffleboard courts, decor inspired by 1970s Miami, and a "relaxing, mellow" vibe, Albert told Community Board 6 members. Aside from shuffleboard, the club plans to host bingo nights, magic shows and musical acts such as lounge singers and New Orleans jazz bands.

Neighbors say they don't have a problem with shuffleboard, but they're worried about what will happen to their block —  which is zoned for manufacturing and has a mix of residential and industrial buildings — when as many as 500 people who've been drinking spill out onto the sidewalk. The club originally planned to stay open til 4 a.m. but the co-owners agreed to close at 2 a.m. in response to locals' concerns.

"I love shuffleboard," said Rosemary Gomez, a 35-year neighborhood resident, "[But] usually people that drink alcohol or drink too much alcohol do things that they shouldn't be doing, and if the police are not there to see what they're doing, who has to live with it? Me, my son, my husband, my mom, my next door neighbor. We're not opposing shuffleboard. By all means, come to the neighborhood. We're opposing the alcohol license for the capacity of 500 people."