2012-01-25 / Front Page

Gypsy Rose Loses Second Liquor License Bid

By LIZ GOFF

The voices of local lawmakers, civic leaders and residents must have reverberated last week with officials at the State Liquor Authority (SLA) who rejected a second application by the owners of a Long Island City strip club for a liquor license.

A coalition of elected officials, area residents and business owners led by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan and Community Board 2 Chair Joseph Conley recently amped up their campaign against approval of a liquor license for the strip club, Gypsy Rose, 42-50 21st Street.

Area officials and community leaders have opposed approval of the liquor license since 2010, charging the club will damage Long Island City’s restored image as a family neighborhood.

At a rally outside the club on January 13, Nolan called on the SLA to deny the second application filed by club owners.

“Long Island City is not a dumping ground,” Nolan declared. “Long Island City is not going to be a place where we exploit women.”

Conley told reporters that there are already a total of eight strip clubs in the area. “It’s about perception,” he said, referring to Long Island City’s rebirth as a family-oriented neighborhood.

Club owners fought back by sending letters of support and numerous petitions to the SLA and CB 2, claiming a large portion of the neighborhood supports the club.

Sources said the letters were from religious and community groups thanking club owners for supporting charities and fundraising efforts. “These were not letters of support for a new strip club in the area.”

Club owners, 21 Group, Inc., touted Gypsy Rose as an “upscale adult entertainment establishment”, and described the neighborhood on their Web site as “desolate, dark and dingy”, saying the club would provide jobs and “nightlife in the area”.

Local business leaders brushed off the owner’s description of the neighborhood. Gary Kesner, of the Long Island City Partnership, said strip clubs lead to an increase in crime and cause local businesses to move.

“This type of establishment does not encourage investment in the area, Kesner said.

“I believe that there is sufficient good cause for us to deny this application,” SLA Chair Dennis Rosen said following the January 18 meeting.

Rosen said the original application was denied, in part, because the agency had questions about the character and fitness of one of the club owners, Konstantine (Gus) Drakopoulos, operator of The Bronx club, Sin City.

Drakopoulos was not included in the new application, which listed a new principal operator, sources said. But it is unclear if the new principal is a front for someone who was removed from the second application.

Rosen said the club owners claimed they have invested millions of dollars into the property, but financial records show an investment of only $515,000.

SLA Commissioner Jeanique Greene, who voted against approval of the license, told reporters, “I don’t anticipate that violence and crime is going to break out if this establishment is licensed.

“I have to evaluate whether the community finds it part of their whole plan of revitalizing their neighborhood,” Greene said.

Van Bramer applauded the agency’s decision and called the denial a victory for families.

“Long Island City is a great place to live, work and raise a family and we will never stop fighting to keep it growing and to keep it great,” Van Bramer said.

“I think it’s a great victory for the community,” Conley declared. “We’re sure one way or another they are going to come back and the community is going to remain vigilant.”

The club owners were not available for comment.
 

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