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Community board members and elected officials vowed Friday to bring their fight against a Long Island City strip club to the state and city in response to the business owner’s recent statements that attempts to stop his liquor license application would result in a more risque establishment.
“We’re going to do whatever we can to oppose this,” state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) said at a news conference also attended by Community Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley, CB 2 City Services Committee Chairman Patrick O’Brien, Councilman-elect Jimmy Van Bramer and Long Island City Business Development Corp. Chairman Gary Kesner.
Nolan and others who gathered outside the site of the proposed strip club at 42-50 21st St. said they planned to first try to work with the state to deny club owner Gus Drakapoulos’ liquor license application.
Drakapoulos, an Astoria native, said he would open the strip club with or without a license. Without alcohol on the premises, Drakapoulos said last week and confirmed again Monday that dancers would be fully nude instead of topless and the minimum age for club-goers would drop from 21 to 18.
“We don’t want to go that route,” Drakapoulos said. “But I’m not in the pizza business. I’m in the adult entertainment business. If you restrict my license, that means my establishment will be a fully nude, no-liquor establishment. I don’t want that, and I don’t think the community board is thinking very clearly about this.”
Nolan, Conley, O’Brien and Van Bramer said the strip club would diminish the quality of life in Long Island City and Nolan said she planned to write to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ask that the Department of City Planning, the city Department of Buildings and the city Landmarks Preservation Commission “look at what’s happening here.”
“We’re a block away from Queensbridge Houses, across from Silver Cup studios, and down the street from a high school, and we don’t need a strip club here,” Nolan said.
The two-story brick building formerly housed Smiley’s Flowers, a wholesaling company. Construction plans show the converted building would have 12 karaoke rooms and a main lounge with two cash bars on the lower floor and a service bar on the upper floor, according to application documents. The plans call for a maximum occupancy of 299 people.
“We’re going to have a very safe, well-managed and -operated environment that will have a positive influence on the area,” Drakapoulos said. “… It will be an upscale gentleman’s club that will have a kitchen, full course meals and burlesque shows. It’s not the typical strip club that people are used to thinking of and seeing. It’ll be more of a mainstream environment. Couples and females will be welcome.”
Van Bramer and Nolan said they would rather see the old building landmarked and perhaps converted into affordable space for the area’s many artists.
“We have so many uses for the building behind us, and one of them is not a strip club,” Van Bramer said. “The last thing we need is a strip club.”
Those at the event said should the strip club open despite their efforts, they would protest the business. Until then, Conley said they will be trying to keep the adult entertainment venture away from Long Island City.
In a statement directed to Drakapoulos, Conley said Friday he “ain’t seen nothing yet.”
“We will battle this,” Conley said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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