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The Battle for “Grand Park” Rages On

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Grand park 

Preliminary architectural sketches depicting "Grand Park's" proposed glass-enclosed backyard

Jesse Hartman's six-month long quest to open a dramatic, glass-enclosed restaurant on a
desolate stretch of Grand Street takes him back to Community Board 3's
SLA Committee next week. Back in June, the Community Board signaled its approval for"Grand Park's" liquor license. But lease negotiations with Hartman's landlord are still not completed, and CB3's approval was only good for six months. So, on Monday, he must go before the SLA Committee for an extension.

Complicating matters, Hartman has a new nemesis: Seward Park Co-op resident Ernest Marshall (the space is located in a shopette owned by the co-op). He has been sliding letters under the doors of the complex's 1700 apartments, urging his neighbors to oppose "Grand Park's" liquor license.  In May, during his initial appearance before CB3, a small number of residents derailed Hartman's application due to concerns about late night noise. After meeting with opponents in the neighborhood and drawing up sound-proofing plans, he satisfied their concerns, and prevailed before the board one month later. Marshall was not part of the group opposing "Grand Park" over the summer.

In his letter, Marshall notes that, in the past, he and "other cooperators have bonded together to eliminate bars, discos and nightclubs similar to those north of Delancey Street. We all know how destructive these establishments are to residential neighborhoods."  The letter said he had been in contact with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office about his concerns.

During his CB3 presentation, Hartman explained that he wanted to open a fine-dining restaurant, not a night club. The interior space, in a strip of retail stores just east of Essex Street, is quite small. Hartman intends to build a glass-enclosed structure in the restaurant's backyard.

Hartman enjoyed strong support from several residents, including Linda Jones, the moderator of a Seward Park message board. In the past day, she posted a note encouraging other supporters of "Grand Park" to attend Monday night's meeting. The space is owned by the co-op, which has stepped up efforts in recent months to lease multiple vacant storefronts it owns.

Michael Tumminia, the president of the Seward Park Housing Corp., says negotiations are still ongoing with Hartman, as well as with other potential tenants. Both he and Hartman said they could not discuss the details. 

In a conversation with The Lo-Down this morning, Hartman did say he has taken on new partners.  Declining to reveal their identity just yet, he said they run "numerous respected restaurants worldwide and are well-funded."  The previous tenant, Isabella's Oven, closed (rather spectacularly) earlier this year, following a rent dispute with the co-op. Hartman said he tried contacting Marshall to discuss his concerns but he "hung up the phone abruptly."

Monday's meeting begins at 630pm, at the JASA.Green Residence, 200 East 5th Street (at Bowery).

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  1. Ernest Marshall
    A fair article would have researched both sides. Although my contact information was available I was not called by the person writing this article. I remain willing to discuss the issues. You wrote that I hung up on Hartman. The fact is that I politely ended the conversation with Hartman after he became hostile, disrespectful, and argumentative. This is a residential neighborhood. After witnessing the traffic, noise, litter and crowds above Delancy Street, we have a GREAT deal to be concerned about regarding the request for this bar.

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