As the Knockdown Center prepares for two shows from Sri Lankan born pop-star MIA on May 8 and 9, a last-minute push from the center to get a liquor license will get its final vote just days before the first show.
A temporary, 600-plus person permit was denied at a State Liquor Authority (SLA) general board meeting last week, and several members from the community voiced their opposition at the public hearing regarding a permanent permit for the center.
Terrence Flynn, the attorney representing the Knockdown Center, was denied a two-week extension for the approval for the permit, however he was granted one week to provide a detailed outline for the center’s upcoming events to be voted on by the SLA at its next meeting on May 6, just two days before the MIA performance on May 8.
“The concern of the precinct is a valid concern and they want to address it,” Flynn told the board, addressing a letter from the 104th Precinct in opposition to the proposed 5,000-person assembly permit and liquor license. “We’re going to show the precinct what we’re doing and the manpower we’re going to have.”
Flynn explained that the center agreed to provide one security guard for every 75 people at the venue, and assured that there would be ample parking on premises and in surrounding private lots and streets. According to Flynn there are an upwards of 960 total spaces for cars in addition to the 50 spaces on site.
In response to claims that the center would invite illicit activity to the surrounding residential communities, Flynn told the board, “You just can’t assume there would be drunk driving everywhere, because in that case no one would be getting a liquor license.”
Christina Wilkinson, a nearby resident and representative of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said the neighborhood has been receiving complaints about the location since 2011, including that there have been children on the premises while alcohol is also present.
“We don’t feel it’s safe for people to be partying with alcohol in the presence of children,” Wilkinson said.
Flynn denied those accusations.
Community Board 5 district manager Gary Giordano also attended the meeting.
“I don’t know anyone who is in favor of it,” Giordano told the board. “There is a residential community across the street, and there have been some very rowdy events there before. So we have some grave concerns.”
Giordano noted the board’s concern of losing manufacturing space at the site, explaining that the venue would potentially create a limited number of jobs in comparison to a manufacturing facility.
“When they first approached me it was supposed to be an arts venue and they would have small events in different parts of the facility,” Giordano said. “It’s gone from there to the potential for 5,000 people there at one time.”