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Troubled 6,000-Person East Williamsburg Venue Scores License to Sell Booze

By Gwynne Hogan | April 4, 2017 11:28am
 The Community Board voted to deny a liquor license to Brooklyn Mirage, a 6,000 person venue in the East Williamsburg industrial park.
The Community Board voted to deny a liquor license to Brooklyn Mirage, a 6,000 person venue in the East Williamsburg industrial park.
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EAST WILLIAMSBURG — European party promoters behind international electronic dance festival CityFox scored a full liquor license for a 6,000 person venue in the neighborhood's industrial zone after months of issues with city agencies and resistance from the local community.

Party planners, Avant Gardner, also called Brooklyn Mirage, will reopen in May or June, according to its owners at a Monday meeting with the State Liquor Authority, where they were granted a full liquor license.

They plan on hosting movie screenings, art and fashion shows, dance parties, weddings, corporate galas in their sprawling indoor/outdoor space decorated with 35 palm trees and 15,000 living plants and located at 111 Gardner Ave. in the East Williamsburg industrial park.

“We are pleased with the SLA’s decision as it’s a significant step in the right direction.  This decision gets us one step closer to bringing our vision for the safest and best multi-purpose, music, and arts venue, Avant Gardner, back to Brooklyn," said Loren Riegelhaupt a spokeswoman for the venue. 

They'll be hosting a job fair to fill positions at the venue later this month or in early May, she added.

The approval comes after nearly two years of concerns with the party operators who first threw a series of raves in the summer of 2015 with pop-up event permits, and then on Halloween that year tried to throw a rave in Greenpoint's Nuhart building, a toxic Superfund site, though the developers were ultimately deemed at fault

When they tried to open at their new location at 111 Gardner Ave. without a liquor license last spring, they had their alcohol confiscated by police and then were kicked out by the city for building and fire code violations.

With that history in mind, SLA chairman Vincent Bradley warned Avant Gardner's owners that they'd be closely monitored. 

"There's not going be a lot of leeway if something goes wrong," Bradley said at the Monday hearing. "I will not hesitate to yank this thing."

Avant Gardner will have to close by 4:30 a.m., according to the agreement made with the State Liquor Authority, against the recommendation of the local community board who opposed Avant Gardner's application because they wouldn't agree to shut down their outdoor space at 1 a.m.

The owners wanted the venue to be able to stay open until 6 a.m., early morning hours where they, "sell a lot of water," according to one co-owner Billy Bildstein at a SLA hearing defending his application last week.

"I'm a former narcotics prosecutor and I know why you need water," Bradley retorted. "I'm fully aware of why someone needs water."