Gowanus Residents Protest Brooklyn Bowl Owner’s Planned Kid-Friendly Rock ‘n’ Roll Club

Casual Rock and Roll bus. (Image: Rock and Roll Playhouse)
Casual rock ‘n’ roll school bus. (Image: Rock and Roll Playhouse)

Forget the old kids in bars fight—now we’re fighting over kids’ bars! Sort of. Last month, Brooklyn Bowl owner and music promoter Peter Schapiro was given the go-ahead to open the Rock and Roll Playhouse, a kid-friendly music space–slash–restaurant-bar in an 8,000 square foot warehouse at 280 Bond Street in Gowanus. A group of locals called We Are Gowanus is fighting the plan, citing zoning regulations.

We Are Gowanus, which the New York Daily News described as made up of “Carroll Gardens residents,” claim Schapiro’s club violates the area’s residential zoning, but Team Schapiro argue that the building’s historic use has grandfathered the space as commercially zoned. The Rock and Roll Playhouse has a long list of age-specific music instruction for children, as distinct from its evening programming, which its website says “will feature Jazz,” which is not very rock and roll. We Are Gowanus is concerned about the noise of a late-night music venue affecting “the neighborhood of brownstones and leafy backyards,” at least some of them likely occupied by We Are Gowanus’s Carroll Gardens residents.

Anyone who has walked through Gowanus at night, even on a weekend, would agree that a rock and roll warehouse would be hard not to notice, though just how disruptive and just how rock-and-roll it would be may be equally up for debate. The neighborhood is certainly changing quickly, with new restaurants, residential high-rises, and a (kids’) tennis club, all of which will affect the character (and the noise level) of super-residential Carroll-Gowanus Gardens-Canal, putting many current residents understandably on edge.

Whatever the fate of the Rock and Roll Playhouse, Brooklyn will soon be down one rock and roll kids space with the closing of Frolic, in a high-rise waterfront development in Williamsburg. If Schapiro’s playhouse wins its legal fight, in the rapidly approaching shadows of Fourth Avenue development, the neighborhood may be well on its way to earning the dubious and cyclical title of “the new Williamsburg,” or at least “the new new Williamsburg”—at least as far as the kids go.

Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post misspelled Peter Schapiro’s name as “Peter Shapiro.”


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