Dispute rages over whether the planned Gowanus home of the Rock and Roll Playhouse ever saw activity

All sleep till Brooklyn Bowl: Kids rock shop foes say venue will end decades of quiet

The Brooklyn Paper
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A kid-friendly restaurant that will double as an adults-only nightclub after 8 pm will turn a quiet block in Gowanus into a madhouse, opponents of the plan claimed on Tuesday.

The Rock and Roll Playhouse planned for the industrial building at the corner of Bond and Degraw streets will flood the neighborhood with noise and boozed-up music fans, opponents said at a city hearing, claiming the warehouse where it will be built has been silent as a morgue for as long as they have lived there, and any business that moves in must keep the peace.

“I have not ever seen any commercial activity on this property,” said Emilie Poisson, a Degraw Street resident and member of the anti-Playhouse group We Are Gowanus.

Opponents also claim that the building hadn’t been used in years, and a zoning variance that will allow the nightclub to open is void as a result.

But one of the structure’s owners, Sharon Ackerman, who handed over the lease to Brooklyn Bowl honcho Peter Shapiro in 2012, claimed the warehouse has been a bustling piece of her plumbing and heating business since 1982, though neighbors with day jobs may not have been around to see it.

“People who work 9-to-5 or 9-to-6, would not see our trucks leaving and entering the building unless they stood there all day,” she said at the hearing. “We maintained the entire building at 280 Bond St. for our business.”

We Are Gowanus reps countered that there is no evidence work happened there for at least the last two years, meaning the building should be stripped of its commercial use since it sits within a zone that does not allow the business to be there.

A local pol concurred, saying the city should revisit its October decision to approve the family-oriented eatery that will turn into a music venue at night.

“It is an exceptionally quiet block,” Councilman Steve Levin said.

“This deserves the highest level of scrutiny.”

Activists fear the play place will be an unruly rock hall, but Shapiro has insisted that it will be a low-key jazz club with occasional lectures and theatrical performances.

During the day, it is slated to offer kids music classes with names such as Reggae for Babies and Little Rockers.

The city asked the venue to submit phone bills and evidence of employment at the Bond Street warehouse before another hearing on March 25.

Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bob from Greenpoint says:
Steve Levin is such a pandering phony who will stump for anyone willing to give him a dollar. He will probably be the first one in line to hang out at this venue once it opens. I'm getting really tired of all the Brooklyn newcomers thinking they own the whole neighborhood and bullying their neighbors who have been there since before they were born. The fact that these types get support from a man-child politician like Levin is nauseating. They should all go for a swim in the toxic Gowanus canal!
Jan. 15, 2014, 11:15 am
bored at work from Carroll Gardens says:
@ Bob from Greenpoint

So what are you against more? Is it Levin who is "pandering" by representing his constituents or the "newcomers" who are trying to maintain the quiet residential nature of their block?

What do you propose? That we abolish the zoning and building code and allow those "who have been there since before they were born" to do whatever they want with their property? Thats an excellent recipe for smart development.
Jan. 15, 2014, 2:55 pm
Bob from Greenpoint says:
Levin's constituents equal half of Brooklyn, including the venue's proprietors (ie. Brooklyn Bowl). He is a politician in the truest sense in that he tries to please everyone and fails miserably. He will no doubt run for Mayor someday, and we can only hope that he has pissed off more people than he has pleased.

As far as the "newcomers" who think that paying $1M for a townhouse because they can't afford Park Slope entitles them to tell all their neighbors who have been there for decades what they can do with their property, I have contempt for them, and I wish they would all leave and give us our Brooklyn back.

To answer your question, "bored at work," you all deserve each other, and your efforts to turn NYC into a boring suburb is destroying the very heart and soul of this city that attracted you here in the first place.
Jan. 15, 2014, 6:54 pm
Mary from Carroll Gardens says:
Bob? What are you talking about? This is not NYC. This is proposal is in a residential block that was built as part of the first large suburban community in our country--which is Brooklyn!

People aren't boring here because we are doing so much more than spending our days drinking beer with the kiddies.
And if "bored at work" wasn't trapped in some boring office tower in NYC, they could be home in Carroll Gardens doing the many interesting things that already fill our lives here in Carroll Gardens.
Jan. 16, 2014, 3:21 pm
Bob from Greenpoint says: are making a vehement argument that Brooklyn is not NYC, but America's first suburb. This is simply an incorrect statement.

Also, "Carroll Gardens" is a bit of a euphemism for Bond Street between Sackett & DeGraw, don't you think?

I think you are pretty disillusioned about this location, and you seem to have drunk the same Kool Aid as the rest of the new arrivals in Brooklyn who think that owning a home entitles them to control what everyone else does with their properties throughout the entire neighborhood. Perhaps you find this to be an interesting activity that fills your life, everyone else seems to.
Jan. 17, 2014, 1:25 pm
BrooklynGersh from The WT says:
I wish all brooklynites would defend this playhouse. Sounds like a great thing. Trying to stop change is a loser's game in NYC, where the only constant IS change! Rock on!
Jan. 18, 2014, 4:10 pm
Jim from Carroll Gardens says:
I totally agree. And don't forget the OTHER constant in NYC... ——ing, whining, and moaning.
Jan. 27, 2014, 10:26 am

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