Drugs, noise and trash: Brooklyn club continues to flout the law, residents say
"We don’t want a Ghost Ship in Brooklyn."
A popular yet problematic nightclub with a history of violations in East Williamsburg had its liquor license renewal unanimously denied at a northern Brooklyn community board meeting last month.
The Brooklyn Mirage, which hosts some of the biggest artists in the electronic dance music scene, opened in the summer of 2017 in the neighborhood’s Industrial Business Zone after several blips with the State Liquor Authority and Community Board 1.
Tom Burrows, chairman of the SLA review committee for CB1, said that clubbers not only leave the streets trashed, but the influx of partygoers also burdens the local police precinct. He said that officers should be out fighting crime rather than supervising inebriated youths.
“They basically feel like they’re above the law,” Burrows said of the venue’s owners, who operate out of an industrial lot at 111 Gardner Ave. and 140 Stewart St. “We don’t want a Ghost Ship in Brooklyn,” he added, referencing the 2016 Oakland, California, warehouse fire that claimed the lives of 36 people.
That lethal blaze erupted in a 10,000-square-foot artist collective known as the Ghost Ship. The fire started while the warehouse was hosting an underground party. It was the deadliest building fire in the country since The Station nightclub fire in 2003 in Warwick, Rhode Island.
The Brooklyn Mirage, which routinely hosts parties Thursday through Saturday lasting until 4:30 a.m., encompasses an outdoor portion of a 6,000-person, 80,000-square-foot complex that also includes indoor and year-round facilities. The entire compound is known as Avant Gardner.
In one instance, according to Burrows, the club’s owners placed an exit for attendees that emptied onto an active freight rail line.
The SLA ultimately decides whether the liquor license renewal will be granted, with the community board’s recommendation taken into account. In April 2017, SLA issued the club a license despite CB1 voting to deny it.
Licensed establishments that apply in a timely fashion are commonly renewed and not subject to the rigorous review performed for new applicants — but because Avant Gardner has two disciplinary cases pending against it, its renewal is in danger of not being passed.
“The SLA has two disciplinary matters pending against Avant Gardner for charges including illicit drug activity, excessive noise, numerous code violations and failure to supervise,” William Crowley of SLA told the Brooklyn Eagle. “The SLA will not act on the renewal for this license until these cases are concluded.”
The agency relies on its disciplinary process to impose sanctions on licensees who violate the law and imposes cancellation or revocation for problematic venues, according to Crowley.
Avant Gardner will have to appear at two separate hearings. The owners have pleaded “Not Guilty” on both charges, Crowley said. The business did not respond to requests for comment.
The illicit drug activity and failure to supervise charges were issued on Dec. 10, while the code violations and excessive noise complaints were given on Nov. 15.
The State Administrative Procedure Act allows the club to continue operating until SLA makes a decision on the renewal, and for an additional four months after that verdict.
The venue was shut down several times over the years for safety and fire code violations and for selling alcohol without a liquor license.
The club is run by Zurich-based entertainment company CityFox, the same business that attempted to throw a massive rave on Halloween in 2015 inside the NuHart Plastics Factory, a deserted Greenpoint warehouse filled with toxic waste that is partially a State Superfund site.
That event was shut down after Cityfox sold 6,000 tickets for a space cleared for only 3,500 people. Authorities also canceled the party because there were combustible substances and hazardous materials on-site.