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New Pub from Gay Sports Bar Owner Would Bring 'Evils' to Chelsea: Locals

By Maya Rajamani | April 18, 2017 11:17am
 The site of the proposed pub, at West 19th Street and Ninth Avenue
The site of the proposed pub, at West 19th Street and Ninth Avenue
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

CHELSEA — The owner of two popular gay sports bars plans to open a “contemporary pub” with a roof deck on Ninth Avenue, drawing the ire of neighbors who say the venue would have a “ruinous” effect on the neighborhood.

Bob Fluet, who co-owns Boxers HK at 742 Ninth Ave.and Boxers NYC at 37 W. 20th St., hopes to open a restaurant and bar called 19th and 9th at 148 Ninth Ave., at the corner of West 19th Street, pending liquor license approval, he told DNAinfo New York.

The venue would resemble a “contemporary pub,” with tables on its first and second floors and its roof deck, Fluet said. A tentative menu filed with Community Board 4 includes “pub plates” like avocado fries and tuna tartare, sandwiches, burgers and tacos, in addition to beer, wine and cocktails.

Within the past week, however, anonymous fliers have been posted around the neighborhood warning residents that the new eatery would likely bring “excessive noise from rooftop drinking,” “rowdy patron behavior,” “loud music” and “dangerous street behavior” — complaints lodged against the two existing Boxers locations — to their area.


(Credit:DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani)

In 2013, neighbors living around Boxers HK claimed the venue was hosting “Bourbon Street”-style rooftop parties with loud noise and partying long into the evening hours.

“Please help stop them from ruining our quiet residential neighborhood,” the fliers read. “We do not want our historic neighborhood to turn into an extension of the Meat Packing District’s disruptive, noisy party scene."

Several neighbors voiced opposition to the application, citing quality-of-life concerns.

Retired Episcopal priest Peter Carey, who lives next to the site of the proposed venue with his husband, maintained Fluet is trying to open a “noisy bar” by “masquerading as a restaurant.”

“It’s a historic neighborhood, for God’s sake,” Carey said. “It would be ruinous for the neighborhood to have such a thing going on, with people staggering into the streets at 2 in the morning, and all of the concomitant evils that go with that.”

Carey and a few of his neighbors have already hired an attorney, Steven Shore, to fight Fluet’s liquor license application if need be.

In a letter addressed to CB4’s Business Licenses and Permits committee, Shore said the application violates a rule that prohibits the serving of alcohol within 200 feet of a school and fails to meet the board's own guidelines for rooftop liquor licenses. The Bayard Rustin Educational Complex sits at West 18th Street, near Ninth Avenue.

Before it opened on Ninth Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, Boxers HK unsuccessfully tried to secure a location near a school on 10th Avenue, the letter noted.

Carey and Cheryl Kupper, a Chelsea resident of 40 years and a member of the 300 West 18th/19th Block Association, both said the planned roof deck was their greatest concern.

“We welcome a good occupant — that would be great — but no roof deck, no loud music,” Kupper said, calling the planned open-air space “completely inappropriate” for the residential neighborhood.

Fluet, however, maintained that 19th and 9th wouldn’t resemble either Boxers outpost.

“It’s not designed to be a Boxers, and it won’t be. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell everybody," he said.

"We're not trying to shove something [that doesn't work] into a neighborhood."

Boxers HK has made amends with upset neighbors, even securing a letter of support for its application for the new venture from the HK 50/51 Neighborhood Association, Fluet noted.

In an email, the association’s president, Steve Belida, confirmed he’d sent the letter.

“He has been a good operator in our neighborhood and has always been responsive to our concerns,” Belida wrote.

Nevertheless, neighbors plan to speak out against the application at CB4’s Business Licenses and Permits committee meeting Tuesday evening.

“I do not blame those residents for retaining legal counsel,” said Melissa Stern, a representative for the West 20th Street Block Association. “It’s a residential block, and it’s an inappropriate use of the building.”