Community Victorious Over Strip Club
By JASON PAFUNDI
The community spoke and its voice was heard by the State Liquor Authority, who denied the 21 Group Inc.’s application for a liquor license for the Gypsy Rose establishment in Long Island City during a hearing Jan. 18 in Manhattan.
|Bishop Mitchell Taylor, along with Community Board 2 chair Joe Conley, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Sen. Mike Gianaris, speaks at a rally opposing the opening of an adult establishment in Long Island City.
It wasn’t long ago that the area in LIC where strip club Gypsy Rose is located — 21st Street directly across from Silvercup Studios — was home to prostitutes, drug dealers and criminals.
But the message from those assembled at a rally on Thursday, Jan. 12, to protest the proposed club was clear: “Those days are over. Those days are over.”
Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley led the group, which included Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Sunnyside), State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), along with business leaders and members of the community, in expressing outrage over the planned adult establishment.
“Long Island City is not a dumping ground and is not going to be a place where we exploit women,” Nolan said. “We are not accepting [Gypsy Rose’s] vision for our community. Our vision is where children and young women can walk safely and where degradation is not a part of it.”
Those opposed to the strip club’s opening do so for two main reasons; first the negative image an adult establishment brings to the area and secondly, the owners of Gypsy Rose, the 21 Group Inc., have seemingly tried to circumvent the system in attempting to get a liquor license approved.
“They applied [for a license] before and it was rejected [by the state’s liquor authority],” Van Bramer said. “They threatened to create an even seedier and dirtier establishment. They have no intention to uplift or contribute to the growth and vibrancy of this community.”
“This is the gateway to Queens, and this is not what we want for our neighborhood,” Van Bramer said.
The location is down the street from Information Technology High School in one direction and from Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing development in North America, in the other.
“You are going to try and build a strip club 500 feet from 5,000 kids? We cannot allow that to happen,” Bishop Mitchell Taylor, founder of the East River Development Alliance, said. “Let’s send this strip club to Fifth Avenue, to Madison Avenue, to Jamaica Estates. This is a new day. Let’s shut this down from now and forever more.”
Business and community leaders spoke at the rally and echoed the sentiments of the elected officials. Everyone seems to agree that a strip club at this location is a bad idea, especially because of the tremendous growth that LIC has seen over the last decade.
“This is such a negative impact on our community from where we were to where we are today,” Jerry Walsh, from the Dutch Kills Civic Association, said. “It would bring back drugs and killings and everything that’s bad.”
Silvercup Studios, where Sex in the City and The Sopranos were filmed and currently the home of Gossip Girl and Person of Interest, among others, is right across the street from the proposed club. It is a Queens landmark with giant signage when approaching the borough on the Queensboro Bridge, signage that might be obstructed if Gypsy Rose’s owners get their way.
The president of Silvercup, Stuart Suna, said that he opposes this establishment not only as the boss of the studios, but also as a father.
“As a resident of Queens when this neighborhood wasn’t as wonderful as it is now and as a man with two daughters, this is the wrong thing to teach our children,” he said.
Studies have shown that adult establishments tend to attract a lower level of person, with questionable character and often times criminal tendencies. Gianaris said that type of person and business is not welcome in LIC.
“There is no room for sex-related businesses in Long Island City,” he said. “We have put a lot of effort over the last several years to make sure LIC in taking steps forward. It’s becoming a place where more and more reputable businesses are opening and this establishment would take us back in the wrong direction. LIC is open for reputable business and open for families.”
Terry Flynn, the attorney representing 21 Group Inc., did not return requests for comment. It is not known how the 21 Group plans to proceed after this latest denied application.
Reach Reporter Jason Pafundi at email@example.com or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128.