CB 1 Says ‘No’ To Racks

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BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

Racks, the controversial Astoria bikini bar, was turned away again after Community Board 1 (CB1) voted not to recommend their liquor license application to the State Liquor Authority (SLA) for the second time in 17 months.

The vote was 38 in favor and five opposed on a motion against recommendation at the September 16 meeting of the board held at Astoria World Manor. Racks reapplied in August after failing to gain a recommendation in April, 2013 when the board voted 17 against and 15 in favor on a motion to approve recommendation.

Joseph Risi Jr., chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee, said the board would send a letter to the SLA citing “the detrimental impact this applicant, if licensed, would have on the quality of life in the community”. Risi said it is ultimately the SLA that approves or denies an application for a state liquor license.

After an investment said to be upwards of $1 million by its owners, 8G Inc., representatives for Racks said it would now be a sports bar, lounge and nightclub with topless female servers. Lobbyist and former Councilmember and Assemblymember Adam Clayton Powell IV and attorney Mark Weinstein, as well as Racks Director of Security Derrick Porter spoke in support of the application at the board meeting.

The former pool hall, located at 19-26 Steinway Street, was turned into a bikini bar featuring female hostesses two years ago, but the negative reaction by area residents and local elected officials, including Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, state Senator Michael Gianaris and Congressmember Joseph Crowley, was immediate and a rally in opposition was held at a nearby playground.

Racks initially applied to CB 1 for a cabaret license in September, 2012 to allow for patron dancing and CB 1 sought a written agreement from the owners at that time stating Racks would not become a topless club, but the owners refused to sign such an agreement and eventually withdrew the application for a cabaret license.

In other business, a public hearing was held for the Fiscal Year 2016 Capital and Expense Budget and for the second consecutive year students, staff and parents from I.S. 126 testified to the need for funding of a new playground at the school located at 31-51 21st Street.

The board’s capital and expense committee will meet on September 30 and make recommendations to the full board for a vote at the October meeting.

2014-09-24 / Features

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