Brooklyn shuffleboard enthusiasts will have to hold their biscuits a bit longer, following a contentious Community Board 6 meeting on Monday night.
In response to neighborhood concerns regarding noise, crowds, security, and loitering, owners temporarily withdrew their liquor license application in order to revise the game plan.
"We feel the presence of this huge club will totally overwhelm the neighborhood and make it unlivable," said Michael Levin, who spoke on behalf of neighborhood residents and presented a petition including .
Royal Palms owners Jonathan Schnapp and Ashley Albert withdrew their application after a motion to have a capacity of 300 (pared down from just under 500), shuttle service from their location to public transit and vegetal soundproofing on the roof was going to be overwhelmingly denied by the committee.
The size and capacity of the 17,000-square-foot space at 514 Union Street in Gowanus, combined with the owners lack of experience in the hospitality industry, fueled most of the debate throughout the evening. Also in question was the ambience of the club and whether it would leave masses of rowdy, drunken loiterers roaming the streets.
Schnapp told board members they want the place to "evoke the feeling of 1970s Florida" and to "keep the spirit of shuffleboard alive." They plan on creating shuffleboard leagues and bingo nights, want to have weddings and bar mitvahs, kids birthday parties and live music a few nights a week, which he described as a guy with a banjo, "not Jane's Addiction.
"We're definitely not going to be the ," he said in an attempt to differentiate themselves. "We're not looking to be Brooklyn Bowl."
Albert echoed that sentiment. "We see it as a place that can be a community center for all ages," she said, noting that the couple intends for the Royal Palms to be a "relaxed and mellow place."
One supporter, Kimberly Wetherell, a President St. resident in Park Slope, spoke to the gentle nature of the game and likened it to the Mirror Lake Club in St. Petersburg, Florida which was used in the movie Cocoon.
"It's oddly quiet," she said. "You hear a shoosh and click. It's a very gentle sport. It can only be a boon for the community. Thirty-five-year residents can go with their grandkids."
"17,000 sq feet is a scary amount of space and we understand that," Schnapp continued, but reminded board members that 7,000 square feet would be dedicated to shuffleboard courts.
He also stated that the pair are looking for a GM with "double digit" years of experience to manage the venue, as well as two security guards: one for ID checks and another for general security on the block.
But residents were not persuaded.
"It's the alcohol," said neighbor Rosemary Gomez. "You don't need the liquor license to have shuffleboard." Gomez also mentioned that with the recent opening of the , as well as a new beer hall on St. Marks, "the police are not going to be there" to keep loiterers in check.
In the end, the committee felt there were "too many negatives in this project," as one member put it. Another said, "I don't think this fits. I think it's too big and will change the community."
But before board members could lay down their final vote, Schnapp and Albert withdrew their application. They will return to the drawing board and try again next month with an amended proposal.
"I'm disappointed," Schnapp told Patch afterward. "I'm still hoping we can come to an understanding with our neighbors. We're just trying to open a shuffleboard club. We'll keep working to come up with solutions that they're comfortable with."
Not serving alcohol, as Gomez suggested, was simply impossible from a revenue standpoint, the owners said.
Albert stated that the Royal Palms requires a liquor license in order to make it a viable business and she left undeterred: "For our neighbors, their solution is for us not to open. That's not an option."