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Locals Blast Plan for Event Space in Williamsburgh Savings Bank

By Meredith Hoffman | December 12, 2013 10:00am
 Developers have been working to turn the Williamsburgh Savings Bank into an event hall.
Developers have been working to turn the Williamsburgh Savings Bank into an event hall.
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WILLIAMSBURG — Developers' grand plans to transform a landmarked bank by the Williamsburg Bridge into an event hall have hit major resistance from residents and local leaders, who claim the potential influx of people and cars to the spot could create unbearable congestion and noise.

The Williamsburgh Savings Bank — which developers have spent the past three years and millions of dollars to restore for use as a banquet hall and event space — had its request for a liquor license turned down Tuesday evening by Williamsburg's Community Board 1, after hundreds of residents signed a petition against the project.

Residents spoke out with concerns that the event space at 175 Broadway, which would hold 1,000 people at a time, would draw such a crush of cars that there would be problems with parking on Broadway near the bridge.

"They want 1,000 people there, and they only have 50 parking spaces," said neighbor Amanda Schneider of the developers' plan, adding that the crowds would also bring more noise to the strip. The city has granted the event space its own parking bay underneath the bridge with room for 50 spots.

Neighbor Trev Huxley also protested the plan, lamenting that it would be "nothing but a beautiful building with a lot of noise."

Developers of the bank, which was built in 1895 and was landmarked in 1996, emphasized that they had spent years planning the space to ensure that the necessary parking was in place and that there were no issues with noise.

The project manager, Carlos Perez San Martin, promised that there would be valet parking plus adequate parking spaces beneath the bridge, noting the events would be "invite only" to prevent rowdy crowds.

David Jensen, who has done work on the building's restoration, said that the community was making a major mistake in opposing the project.

"The company put their eyetooth in this project," he said. "It's going to help the neighborhood."

Community Board 1's vote on the liquor license is advisory, and the State Liquor Authority will make the final decision.