A year ago, a Hudson-Related promoted vendor said they planned dumping a speakeasy and outdoor beer garden in public park space on Roosevelt Island. Nearing completion, The Sanctuary gets uglier than initially feared. Here’s our update.
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
UPDATE, APRIL 2021: The Sanctuary’s owner told the Roosevelt Islander that a “soft opening” is on tap for May. But a check of the city database shows nothing registered with the Dept. of Health as legally required. As previously noted, similarly, we’ve been unable to find any record of building permits.
Even so and inspite of resident complaints, RIOC has allowed operations to continue, apparently under the influence of Hudson Companies, which oversees retail developments on Roosevelt Island.
Radical Remake: Encroaching On A Fire Lane and a Playground
One persistent issue has been the absence of legally required Department of Buildings permits for the work. A check today shows that no permits have ever been applied for or approved for 851 Main Street.
As we reported earlier, extensive interior renovations appear in violation of legal requirements. No permits are visible anywhere on the site, and RIOC, where the Public Safety Department claims it enforces local laws, is fully aware at the highest levels.
Here’s a video we captured of RIOC fearlessly confronting The Sanctuary over its lack of compliance:
Impossible without “cooperation” from RIOC administration and board of
Worries about the outdoor beer garden and party activities encroaching on Octagon Park and children’s playgrounds were not just confirmed, but escalated.
This fire lane, lacking stop signs and any other safety features, is not up to speed for commercial traffic, and the playground is just a rock’s throw from the paved over party space.
RIOC Negligence Welcomed COVID-19 Violations While Everyone Else Shut Down
Construction halted almost everywhere, going along with Governor Cuomo’s executive order, but The Sanctuary sped up. No social distancing or face masks. Building permits not visibly posted anywhere, if they have them at all.
Who’s protecting The Sanctuary from violations as they build their outdoor beer garden adjacent to once safe parks and playgrounds?
About Hudson’s Strange Plan To Build an Outdoor Beer Garden and Speakeasy
Late last summer, Hudson’s plan to dump a speakeasy in Roosevelt Island park space capped a day of changes. Just as RIOC stepped up to protect residents, Hudson released plans to damage the community. Again.
“The lights are coming back on at a spooky, nearly century-old Roosevelt Island church — not for prayer, but for partying.”
That’s the lede from a story in the New York Post, last September.
And it gets worse.
Adding to their stealth initiative to dump a speakeasy in Roosevelt Island park space, Hudson leaned on The Post for happy face reporting without a local press release.
Clueless, but that’s how Hudson explains unloading a speakeasy never discussed with anyone living here.
But First, The Sanctuary Event Space
“Sanctuary Event Space” split the seams on Roosevelt Island for the first time with a low profile. Tuesday, someone plastered posters on kiosks about a fundraiser for the Titan Theatre Company.
“…at The Sanctuary, 851 Main Street, Roosevelt Island.”
Before that shock settled in, The Daily discovered a second event already planned: “an intimate pop-up dinner on New York’s most intimate island,” on October 14th.
“La Nueva Mesa kicks off a pop-up dinner series with a wine-paired six-course locally sourced plant based meal,” we found, and it’s only $125 a pop.
Hudson dumps a speakeasy on Roosevelt Island. What’s wrong with that?
Just about everything.
Location, location, location… Isn’t that what real estate is supposed to be about?
The former Dayspring Church sits on a plot connecting Octagon Park, adjacent playgrounds, the soccer field and an exercise park along the West Promenade.
But Hudson thinks this is a great spot for an outdoor beer garden.
It will take away the pleasures of the parks and make the whole area less safe.
RIOC Steps In
Hudson failed to notify it’s partner, RIOC, a State agency, before signing off to dump a speakeasy in Roosevelt Island. After we broke the story, they acted.
A critical concern, among many others, is that vehicle access to The Sanctuary is only possible by driving through a fire lane. There is no stop sign at the end of the lane where it meets the Promenade.
The single vehicle access route to The Sanctuary is a fire line bordered by a park, a playground and a daycare center, without sidewalks or lane striping.
No active road exists, and the fire lane, bordered by a park, a playground and a daycare center, doesn’t have sidewalks or lane striping. Worse yet, you get to that only after driving through The Octagon’s parking lot, never intended for two-way traffic.
Earlier, we asked Hudson president David Kramer how he planned to handle the traffic issues.
He didn’t answer. Probably couldn’t. Not his problem.
He just collects the rent on behalf of Hudson and partner Related, which funnels part of it to Trump’s campaign.
RIOC Forced To Act on Short Notice
“After considering the site, PSD will not be allowing any parking at the site of the event,” RIOC told the Daily, late yesterday. “All existing fire lanes and roadways will be kept clear during the event. Anyone who drives to the event will have to park in Motorgate.
“PSD will be on hand to monitor the situation,” RIOC adds, setting up an Uber turnaround away from the venue so as to minimize traffic congestion. PSD will also monitor noise levels during the event. Anyone who has a complaint, contact PSD directly at 212-832-4545.”
That effectively handles one event, but others are coming along with the detestable intrusion of a speakeasy and an outdoor beer garden on our Parks.
Hudson dumps a speakeasy on Roosevelt Island: Other issues
Top of the list: The Sanctuary’s operators have not applied for required licenses but are going full steam ahead anyway.
A search of the city Department of Buildings database does not reveal an occupancy permit, not even an application. And no building permit for construction either.
Both event announcements promise alcohol, not unexpectedly, but there is no license for it.
A well-informed source tells us that “…any venue in the City that intends to distribute or sell alcohol as part of its commercial operation requires at the very least a beer and wine license from the State Liquor Control Board.”
The SLC relies on Community Board 8’s review and recommendation, but The Sanctuary has not appeared before CB8.
Being “..on Roosevelt Island does not negate this requirement,” our source concludes.
Conclusion: About Hudson’s plan to dump a speakeasy in Roosevelt Island…
There’s far more wrong than right with this poorly thought out assault on Roosevelt Island’s quality of life.
RIOC cannot be leaned on repeatedly to insure safety where a business owner disregards it. Especially as the owners appear to be politically connected and protected.
It’s impossible to see how this location can ever be suitable for a speakeasy or outdoor beer garden.
Imagine tipsy revelers wandering into the parks and along the seawall.
Who cleans up? Who prosecutes the inevitable crimes as we welcome public urination over the seawall?
RIOC deals with the immediate traffic issues, but what about licensing?
It’s clear that Hudson doesn’t care about the quality of life degradation it’s forcing on residents, but laws and regulations are there for a reason.
Someone, hopefully RIOC, maybe The Octagon, needs to step up and say, “Not here, not on Roosevelt Island.”
Before it’s too late.