Inappropriate Location for Speakeasy, Outdoor Beer Garden, General Misconduct

"The Sanctuary" should never be allowed to open on Roosevelt Island

David Stone
Standing at the speakeasy entrance, family picnic grounds and kids playground park are just a few, unprotected feet away.
Standing at the speakeasy entrance, family picnic grounds and kids playground park are just a few, unprotected feet away.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

In our opinion, it doesn't take a genius to see why the so-called Sanctuary speakeasy and outdoor beer garden should never be allowed to open on Roosevelt Island. If its location only 25 unprotected feet across a fire lane from a community picnic and playground park isn't enough, there's plenty more.

Kids frolic on swings and folks walk their dogs, just across the fire lane from Hudson's speakeasy and outdoor beer garden.
Kids frolic on swings and folks walk their dogs, just across the fire lane from Hudson's speakeasy and outdoor beer garden.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

We can start with the obvious.

The building, which served as a church for over a century, sits in space never contemplated for the future use projected by Hudson-Related. 

  • It's immediately adjacent to a family park, picnic area and playground.
  • Vehicle access requires misusing a fire lane as a two-lane thoroughfare. There are no sidewalks or lane stripes, and it's poorly lit.
  • Even before reaching the fire lane, vehicles have to drive through The Octagon's parking lot, also not designed or set up as an active roadway. Pedestrians walk through the poorly lit area at all hours, and it ends with a single lane bottleneck where drivers must enter and exit the fire lane.
  • The fire lane has unprotected entrances and exits from a busy daycare center and a community garden.
  • The church was never part of the AVAC system, meaning a smelly, unsightly dumpster will have to be parked somewhere. It's also not equipped for the electrical and plumbing demands of an active restaurant.

A fire lane, the single vehicle access to "The Sanctuary" lacks sufficient lighting, stop signs, sidewalks and lane striping.
A fire lane, the single vehicle access to "The Sanctuary" lacks sufficient lighting, stop signs, sidewalks and lane striping.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Over the weekend, passing the church, I saw a worker exit with two bags of garbage. She placed them in the public container maintained by RIOC. So, the new operators haven't bothered to even set up their own refuse disposal and will rely on taxpayer support instead.

And what if they do get a dumpster? Where will it go? In the fire lane? Their parking area adjacent to the West Promenade? How noisy will it be and at what hours? Who's responsible for the Manhattan-like stink when trash is left for days over weekends, ripening.

How will the stink affect users of the picnic area only recently returned to full availability after an emergency road was built?

Rules are for everyone, even behemoth Hudson-Related

Hudson-Related's stealth tactics in sneaking in a speakeasy and outdoor beer garden while disguising their intentions from locals, never seeking comment, are a big turn off, but consider these...

  • At least two events are scheduled that include distributing/selling alcohol, although there is no license for it. An appearance before Community Board 8, the first step in such a process, will not even happen until next week.
  • A search of the Department of Buildings's database last week did not turn up an occupancy permit or even an application for one.
  • Same for a building permit allowing the construction necessary to convert the church into a speakeasy and/or event space.
  • No record of a Fire Department inspection has turned up.
  • Taken together, the owner's failure to do the right thing in terms of regulations hints at an unscrupulous operator with little or no concern for the demands legitimate operators like Kaie Razaghi at Nisi met before opening.

RIOC appears, so far, unwilling to deal with the permits and licensing issues nor to bring in NYPD to do it for them. Residents' best opportunity for success may be The Sanctuary's appearance before CB8's Street Life Committee on October 10th. They'll be asking for approval to get a State liquor license. 

The future public urination station for "The Sanctuary" is perfectly located across from the parking lot. No lights and the East River for a flush.
The future public urination station for "The Sanctuary" is perfectly located across from the parking lot. No lights and the East River for a flush.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

In our opinion, they should be stopped.

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