SLA Okays New Performance Venue in FiDi, Despite Opposition from Local Leaders
A new performance venue, planned for 20 Exchange Place (tall center building), has sparked opposition among nearby residents in the Financial District.
Over the objections of Community Board 1 (CB1) and hundreds of local residents, the State Liquor Authority (SLA) has approved the application for a license to serve alcohol by Submursive, a production company that wants to open a 100,000-square-foot performance venue, spread across seven floors of 20 Exchange Place, in the Financial District. That building occupies the full block bounded by Beaver, William, and Hanover Streets, as well as Exchange Place.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Susan Cole, chair of CB1’s Licensing and Permits Committee, said of the Submursive proprietors, “this group has been disingenuous and not forthcoming. They didn’t want to sign any stipulations; they didn’t want to even deal with us. They have no traffic plan, no garbage plan, no security plan. They are going to be a problem. And that is why the community board rejected it.” This was a reference to a February 2020 resolution enacted by CB1, which opposed the granting of a liquor license, based in part on, “the enormous negative quality of life issues that the addition of such a large venue operating throughout the year would create in this already-saturated small neighborhood, coupled with a traffic plan that does not come close to addressing any type of workable management.”
When SLA board member Lily Fan expressed skepticism that the Financial District is a residential neighborhood, Ms. Cole replied, “you are wrong. There are 1,400 units right there, where the entrance is going to be.”
The production company’s “immersive” approach to performance fuses “promenade theater” (in which the audience strolls at whatever tempo they chose through a succession of rooms) and “environmental theatre” (in which staging takes place within physical spaces that resemble the play’s setting, rather than using a traditional theater layout). Submursive first gained notice in New York in 2011 with “Sleep No More,” an adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” infused with a 1930s film noir sensibility. For 20 Exchange Place, they plan a new version of Goethe’s “Faust,” set in 1890s New York.
Alejandra Cata, a nearby resident, spoke in her capacity as a leader of Keep FiDi Safe, a grassroots organization, founded by residents of 20 Exchange Place, as well as multiple nearby buildings, including Three Hanover Square, 55 Wall Street, 15 Broad Street, and 76 Pearl Street. The organization collected more than 1,000 signatures from local residents on a petition, urging rejection of Submursive’s application for a liquor license.
Ms. Cata argued that, “the community does not believe that licensing 100,000 square feet of commercial space underground is in the public interest. Nighttime operation and liquor is what community does not want. The community has resoundingly said ‘no.’” She also alleged that the Submursive team, “posted a notice for hearing, but posted wrong date. They backdated it to a date that had already passed.”
City Council member Christopher Marte said, “this is not in the best interests of the community. We already have a number of event spaces and nightlife venues Downtown.” He also urged the SLA board members, “at the very least, have them come back to the Community Board, but don’t make a decision today.”
Ms. Fan pointed out that granting a liquor license could be a way to mitigate harm to the community, saying, “we can limit attendance to 500 people. But they can open for business without a liquor license, and that space would have an occupancy of 3,500 people.”
Mariama James, co-chair of CB1’s Quality of Life Committee, and chair of its Large Venue Task Force, said, “William Street is a very tiny street, built for horses. Barely one car can pass. This is not a place to put an establishment at which thousands of people are going to converge on the neighborhood. People are very afraid.”
Ms. Fan noted, “the issues are noise, pollution, traffic, lines, delivery, garbage, egress, and fire safety.” She then proposed a series of conditions, asking the Submursive team to accept them before the SLA would vote on their application. These included a cap on attendance within the new facility, not to exceed 500 customers. She also imposed limits to hours of operation and the number of shows per day, as well as a minimum amount of time between each performance.
Ms. Fan additionally stipulated restrictions on when supplies could be delivered and garbage could be brought outside for pickup. She further insisted that Submursive hire security guards to clear the streets after each performance and enforce rule against cars idling. She proposed, too, that the group hire a community liaison, who will be tasked with dealing with public concerns, and establish a hotline through which complaints can be registered.
Once the applicant had agreed to these conditions, the SLA voted unanimously to grant its request for a license to serve alcohol. After the vote was finished, the SLA’s chairman, Vincent Bradley, said, “this is probably the hardest case I’ve done in years that I’ve been here.”
Ms. Cata observed afterward that, “we are disappointed by the decision, but feel that the conditions imposed by the SLA will help the community try to resolve the issues that will arise when the business opens. And we are committed to giving the community the tools to do so.”
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A boon for stargazers, unusually long, dark mornings follow the winter solstice and continue as the New Year begins, rewarding the curious who venture outdoors at dawn. The solstice-time Sun rises at 7:20am this week through January 10. Mornings continue dark as afternoons are increasingly brighter: today’s sunset is at 4:40pm; sundown on January 10 is 4:47pm.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.
Fulton Street cobblestones between South and Front Sts. across from McNally Jackson Bookstore.
Locally grown produce from Rogowski Farm, Breezy Hill Orchard, and other farmers and small-batch specialty food products, sold directly by their producers. Producers vary from week to week.
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted at all farmers markets.
TODAY IN HISTORY
In this Jan. 6, 2021 photo supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP
1066 – Following the death of Edward the Confessor on the previous day, the Witan meets to confirm Harold Godwinson as the new King of England; Harold is crowned the same day, sparking a succession crisis that will eventually lead to the Norman conquest of England
1540 – King Henry VIII of England marries Anne of Cleves.
1839 – The Night of the Big Wind, the most damaging storm in 300 years, sweeps across Ireland, damaging or destroying more than 20% of the houses in Dublin.
1907 – Maria Montessori opens her first school and daycare center for working class children in Rome, Italy.
1912 – New Mexico is admitted to the Union as the 47th U.S. state.
1912 – German geophysicist Alfred Wegener first presents his theory of continental drift.
1930 – The first diesel-powered automobile trip is completed, from Indianapolis, Indiana, to New York.
1941 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his Four Freedoms speech in the State of the Union address.
1947 – Pan American Airlines becomes the first commercial airline to offer a round-the-world ticket.
1960 – National Airlines Flight 2511 is destroyed in mid-air by a bomb, while en route from New York City to Miami.
1989 – Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh are sentenced to death for conspiracy in the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi; the two men are executed the same day.
1995 – A chemical fire in an apartment complex in Manila, Philippines, leads to the discovery of plans for Project Bojinka, a mass-terrorist attack.
2021 – On January 6, supporters of President Donald J. Trump attacked the US Capitol seeking to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election by disrupting the joint session of Congress assembled to count electoral votes that would formalize then President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
1256 – Gertrude the Great, German mystic (d. 1302)
1412 – Joan of Arc, French martyr and saint (d. 1431)
1745 – Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier, French co-inventor of the hot air balloon (d. 1799)
1878 – Carl Sandburg, American poet and historian (d. 1967)
1882 – Sam Rayburn, lawyer and politician, 48th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (d. 1961)
1883 – Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher (d. 1931)
1920 – John Maynard Smith, English biologist and geneticist (d. 2004)
1925 – John DeLorean, American engineer and businessman, founded the DeLorean Motor Company (d. 2005)
1931 – E. L. Doctorow, American novelist, playwright, and short story writer (d. 2015)
1350 – Giovanni I di Murta, second doge of the Republic of Genoa
1358 – Gertrude van der Oosten, Beguine mystic
1537 – Alessandro de’ Medici, Duke of Florence (b. 1510)
1852 – Louis Braille, French educator, invented Braille (b. 1809)
Credit: Wikipedia and other internet and non-internet sources