This past January, a petition emerged on the neighborhood-based social media site Nextdoor, setting off a classic comments section debate over quality of life issues, as well as the role of new businesses, in Greenpoint.
The petition, drafted by a few residents of 1139 Manhattan Avenue, opposes an application to turn 1145 Manhattan Avenue into a bar. Heisler Hospitality, the group behind the application, hopes to expand their Chicago-based hospitality group into North Brooklyn with an all-day cafe and bar called Estereo, which already has a popular Chicago location.
Allison McGuffin, who has lived across the street from the space for the past sixteen years, said that she and other residents in the area were able to review Heisler’s application and were concerned about certain aspects – chiefly, hours of operation, amplified music, and the expansion of existing building capacity. They brought these concerns to Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 and were able to contact Heisler Hospitality directly.
“At the suggestion of the Community Board, a group of residents met with a representative of Heisler Hospitality, the ownership group, on November 29, 2021 to discuss these concerns regarding their building design, business plan and methods of operation and the potential impact on the surrounding residents and businesses. The representative took note of the concerns and said he would discuss these with the ownership group and get back to the residents.
Plans were emailed back to the residents reflecting a proposed glass-enclosed extension over the outside patio that would increase the overall capacity from 74 to 110, but there was no mention how the sound will be contained other than a reference to a sound design company. The residents had requested the use of an acoustical engineer to verify that the sound will be contained in their proposed design. Other than the plans, there was no response to the resident’s other concerns including their methods or hours of operation.”Excerpt from emailed statement to Greenpointers from Allison McGuffin
The opposition group presented their petition to Brooklyn’s Community Board 1, who eventually denied Heisler Hospitality’s application, on the basis that they weren’t present at the State Liquor Authority working group meeting that took place on January 25.
In response to the original petition, a local named Mike Brant created a pro-Estereo petition. Mike works in film and television and did not have any prior connection to Heisler Hospitality, though he became curious about the new space when he saw his neighbors talking about the first petition online.
“I was immediately kind of skeptical of it because it didn’t quite sit right with me. It seemed like I wasn’t really getting the full side of the story…So I kind of looked at some of the claims being made and looked into the group and reached out to the [Heisler] group and got a pitch deck about what they were trying to do. I was like ‘Well this seems much different than I thought it was,’ and that’s what led me to do the support petition,” Mike told Greenpointers.
Mike says that the response to his petition has been mostly positive, and in some cases, has led people to reevaluate their previous stance, once they learn a little more about what Heisler Hospitality intends to do with the space.
Heisler Hospitality themselves have outlined their commitments to the neighborhood and say that their business will not operate as a nightclub. The outdoor patio space will close at 11:00 p.m, as well as exterior windows and doors. No music will be played outdoors.
“We work with audio professionals, UnCanned Music, on all aspects of sound design and music curation to achieve an overall sound experience that balances musical tone and presence with comfortable ambience, conversation and appropriate sound pressure levels.
Using careful speaker equipment choices, placement locations and sound absorptive insulation panels, Uncanned Music will create a polished, clear and high-fidelity sound design that is also warm, even and enveloping; never harsh or obtrusive.”Pitch deck from Estereo
Margot, a resident who was originally opposed to Estereo and shared the first petition on a private North Brooklyn Facebook group, now says she’s not so sure.
“Ever since someone commented early on in the posts that the sound system wouldn’t be extreme, I was ok with them moving in. I didn’t sign Mike’s petition, but am not opposed to them being here,” Margot, who asked that we only use her first name, told us.
“I do shudder a little about our little tip of the hood becoming a mirror of nightlife [like] Williamsburg, but you can’t stop progress. Would love more services (we used to have a bike shop, for instance), rather than bars, but my fingers are crossed that if the bar moves in they will be a good neighbor.”
“I’m quite on board with it being there. They seem responsible and very responsive to the community,” said Shawna, who lives across the street from the space. “It will be nice to have more options down by us, particularly with so many towers going up and the influx of so many new people.”
Mike Brant sees the battle for Estereo as indicative of larger development issues in the North Brooklyn area. “Ultimately the auto-shop has been empty for at least a decade, and there’s nobody coming in to make that change or bring value to the property or neighborhood in that way,” said Mike.
“If we’re gonna start saying ‘no’ to bars and restaurants that are in the neighborhood and trying to make room for improvements, this is the litmus test. If you say no to this, then you’re not gonna have a bar or restaurant in any point of north Greenpoint.”