Williamsburg Community Group Working to Prevent Neighborhood From Becoming the “Next Ludlow Street”

Chicken fried steak basically begs for an alcoholic accompaniment. photo via Pies 'n' Thighs
Chicken fried steak basically begs for an alcoholic accompaniment.
photo via Pies ‘n’ Thighs

Much of Williamsburg these days feels more akin to the Meatpacking District or the Lower East Side than to the rest of Brooklyn in that, much like those once gritty Manhattan neighborhoods that went through rapid and dramatic changes, Williamsburg often feels like little more than a tourist trap catering only to liberally spending, heavily drinking transients aka NYU students, European tourists, and finance folks in their post-MBA/pre-Westchester years. But what is there to do, right? How to stop this incessant wave of binge-drinking-induced vomit from flooding the streets of the Northside? Is it even possible? Well, maybe. Maybe!

Gothamist reports that on Tuesday night, at the Community Board 1 meeting in Williamsburg, the SLA Review & DCA Committee “strongly recommended” upcoming arrival Black Tree, not be allowed to obtain a liquor license. This recommendation came following the tireless work of a Williamsburg community group—the Fillmore Place Historic District Association— that “feels that Williamsburg has become dominated by the young and frivolous, and that it’s time to push back.” One member of the group spoke to Gothamist, explaining, “We have a problem with what is fast becoming the next Ludlow Street.”*

The group is pushing for the attentive observation of a law which dictates the denial of “full liquor licenses to any new establishment that falls within the ‘500-Foot Rule,’ in which no more than 3 liquor licenses can be within 500-feet of each other, unless there’s a community benefit.” And although, as Gothamist points out, “Community Board liquor license recommendations are purely advisory… the SLA often defers to the board’s judgement.”

So what does this mean for you? As of now, it’s hard to say if this vote will have much of an immediate, or even long-term, impact, or even if the current targets of the community’s wrath are the correct ones. But it’s hard not to feel hopeful about the fact that people are still invested in trying to preserve the elements of their neighborhoods that are worth saving, and are not afraid to challenge invasive entities (including those like Black Tree that are Guy Fieri-approved and cater specifically to “bros“) that have long felt unstoppable. Lest you ever feel completely helpless in the face of rampant development and dramatic change in the neighborhoods you’ve inhabited for years and years, never forget that there are ways of making an impact and there are things you can do and outlets you have to vent your grievances. As one member of the Fillmore Place group warns: It’s up to us to prevent all of Brooklyn from becoming a “nightmarish ‘entertainment district.'” Let’s keep Brooklyn livable.

*Sunny Chapman, a member of the Fillmore Place Historic District Association, commented below that Pies ‘n’ Thighs—a restaurant the group loves—was NEVER a target and that its inclusion in the Gothamist article was an error. This article has been changed to reflect this error, by removing the inclusion of Pies ‘n’ Thighs and The Randolph (also erroneously reported upon). The headline has also been changed to better represent the community group’s mission, which is definitely not to reinstate prohibition, only, as we wrote, to prevent much of Williamsburg from truly becoming “the next Ludlow Street.”

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