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Local Pols Send Letters to State Liquor Authority Against Kemistry Lounge

The battle between Kemistry and the community has risen to local government: Councilman Levin, Assemblywoman Millman and State Senator Montgomery all have sent letters to the SLA asking them not to approve the liquor license.

The Barclays Center , and bars, clubs and lounges are hoping to get a piece of the financial pie as game and concert-goers leave the arena looking for a place to drink. But one particular place that is currently being built, Kemistry Lounge on Flatbush between Prospect Place and St Marks Avenue, .

At first it was just individual residents of Prospect Place who opposed the not-yet-open “upscale” restaurant/lounge because it has a glass façade on their street. Then they formed a neighborhood organization, Prospect Place Neighbors (PPN), to make their opposition more cohesive and concentrated.

Eventually, after two months and two meetings, .

And now, although Kemistry has yet to submit an application to the State Liquor Authority, local politicians have took up arms (in the form of pen and paper) to ask the agency not to give the establishment a liquor license. 

Kemistry Lounge plans to be a 225-person capacity space with bottle service at tables, a private party room with a dance floor in the basement and live music and DJs.

The arguments against the lounge, which PPN, CB6 and politicians believe will be a “nightclub,” focus on the fact that it will be open too late in an area that is becoming “bar row,” too loud especially with the glass façade on the residential street and too dangerous for the community of families with young children.

“Kemistry Lounge would be the largest nightclub in central Brooklyn with a capacity of 225 people on two floors with live performances, DJs, a full bar and dancing,” said PPN member Andy Ring during a CB6 permits and license meeting in late April. “Also, Kemistry Lounge would be the first establishment doing hostess served hard-alcohol bottle service in the area, and only the second in all of Brooklyn.”

During a CB6 general board meeting on Wednesday, representatives for Councilman Stephen Levin, Assemblywoman Joan Millman and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery all stated that the politicians have written letters to the SLA asking them not to grant Kemistry a liquor license.

Levin’s letter stated that Kemistry’s owners have not complied with the community, CB6 and his office in a sufficient manner to come to a compromise on their disagreements.

Kemistry’s co-owner, James Brown who also owns Atomic Wings on Ninth Street in Park Slope, would not agree to CB6’s request to close by 2 a.m. on the weekends, ditch the bottle service and “brick up” the glass façade on Prospect Place.

Levin wrote to the SLA:

“Unfortunately, the owners and representatives of Kemistry did not participate in this process in the open and transparent way that would have benefitted their business and the community at large. Because of their failure to participate in this process and address the interests of the community, I cannot support this application.”

Assemblywoman Joan Millman wrote that she wants the SLA to take the community board’s concerns seriously. Millman said there are two issues that she believes makes Kemistry a bad fit for its location:

  1. Bottle service: Kemistry Lounge wishes to be the second establishment in Brooklyn to offer bottle service. Bottle service drastically increases patrons’ incentive to drink and promotes dangerous levels of drunkenness.
  2. Closing times: This establishment abuts a quiet residential block and is located near two daycare centers. A set of reasonable closing times must be established.

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery also sent a letter to the SLA.   

“The neighbors are very concerned about the effect Kemistry will have on the neighborhood character and their property values,” Montgomery wrote, also explaining that Kemistry’s presence will be exacerbated by many other “establishments with full liquor licenses in the immediate area” and may disturb the day care center on the street.

On Friday, James Brown said that he has not yet applied for a liquor license with the SLA and said he could not confirm if and when he will. However, he did say that he intends to “move forward with business.”

Brown said that Kemistry Lounge will respect the community’s wishes and that he will make sure Prospect Place is not affected by his business because he will soundproof the walls, frost the glass façade on the residential street, set up the DJ booth on the Flatbush-side of the establishment and do any other changes that will help keep the noise inside.

“We will agree to do whatever we can for the community,” Brown told Patch. “But the competitive nature of this business makes us need to stay open late and sell alcohol, our business needs to be viable."

In terms of hours of operation—which has been a point of contention and during the April CB6 meeting Brown said he could not promise to close at 2 a.m. on weekends—he said they will find a compromise “in the middle” of the communities’ requests and his competitors’ hours.

“We want to make sure that we do not contribute to a mass exodus of all the bars at the same time in the area,” Brown said. “We are not trying to diminish the quality of life on Prospect Place or in the surrounding area.”

But Brown said he could not promise to brick up the Prospect Place glass façade because the building’s landlord is going to make that the entrance to the condominiums, which are being built above Kemistry.

He does hope that his business can move in and be friendly with the residents on the block, he said.

“I am sorry we couldn’t come to an agreement at the meetings,” Brown said. “But we do not have any intention in being a bad neighbor, we are going to be a good neighbor.”

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