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Intimate Gay Bar Coming to Hell's Kitchen

By Mathew Katz | May 8, 2014 10:28am
 John Blair, owner of Rise, said that he would spend $70,000 on soundproofing to keep the spot quiet. 
John Blair, owner of Rise, said that he would spend $70,000 on soundproofing to keep the spot quiet. 
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HELL'S KITCHEN — An intimate gay bar by nightlife impresario John Blair is on the way to Hell's Kitchen.

Rise, which Blair described as a "first-class lounge" in his liquor license application, will open at 859 Ninth Ave. near West 56th Street.

The bar will only hold 74 people, making it smaller than Blair's previous megaclubs, which include the 14,000-square-foot XL Nightclub on West 42nd Street.

Community Board 4 gave advisory approval to Rise's liquor license at a packed meeting Wednesday night after hearing from dozens of residents both for and against it.

Blair, a former CB4 member, had hoped to keep the bar open until 4 a.m. seven days a week, but agreed to close at 2 a.m. from Sunday to Wednesday to compromise with neighbors.

Blair also promised to spend $70,000 to soundproof the space.

"I've seen the mayhem that's happened for people who live in this neighborhood with loud bars and restaurants," Blair said. "We're spending $70,000 to make sure [our neighbors] have a good quality of life."

But some opponents still said they worried about the bar's impact on the neighborhood.

"I'm a big queer, I patronize all the gay bars," said one resident who lives just steps from the proposed lounge.

"I beg this board not to open a bar across from my apartment that's open until 4 a.m. If I want to go to a gay bar, I can go to any one in the neighborhood."

John Karivan, who lives in the building next to the bar, previously opposed it, but he said Blair's soundproofing and outreach efforts swayed him to support it. On Wednesday, he was one of dozens who spoke out in support of Rise.

"You don't want this neighborhood to be as vacant as it used to be," Karivan said.

"We should welcome businesses like this that are successful at what they do, who want to invest in our neighborhood."

The bar's liquor license will now go before the State Liquor Authority, where locals will have another opportunity to voice their opinion.

Blair did not give a timeline for when Rise would open.