Are archaic liquor laws holding Harlem back?

TRD New York /
Oct.October 18, 2012 08:30 AM

Long-time residents of the Lower East Side may feel they are plagued with too many bars, but in Harlem tough liquor laws may be holding the neighborhood back, according to the Wall Street Journal. Zoning in Harlem forbids the issuing full liquor licenses to businesses on the same street and within 200 feet of a house of worship or a school.

But Harlem has an estimated 200 houses of worship, according to a list by the city’s Department of Finance — thought to be the highest concentration in the city. “It kind of seems like they have something on every corner,” Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman’s retail group, told the Journal.

The only exception to the law is for establishments continuously licensed since before December 5, 1933 — the year the law was passed — or for businesses that were licensed before a school or house of worship was built, according to the State Liquor Authority.

The upshot is that restaurants — thought to attract new tenants and homebuyers — looking to open in the neighborhood often can’t, or at least not if they plan to serve alcohol.

“I have been doing work in Harlem for 13 years, and it’s probably been the number-one issue in terms of constraints for restaurant development in Harlem,” Nikoa Evans-Hendricks, executive director of Harlem Park to Park, said. “It’s made it very difficult to build a real restaurant or night life corridor because it’s pretty much every block, whether it’s a megachurch…or a storefront church.” [WSJ]Christopher Cameron

Related Articles

From left: The Blau and Berg Company's Karine Blanc, TD and Partners' Nana Duncan and Lemor Development Group's Kenneth Morrison (Credit: Blauberg, TD+Partners and Lemor)

Black developers say partnerships aren’t always equal

Corcoran's Tim Malone

Brokers in cabs: An interview with Corcoran’s Tim Malone

(Video by Adam Pogoff)

Brokers in cabs: An interview with Bohemia Realty Group’s Sarah Saltzberg

Gale Brewer proposes women’s jail at Lincoln Correctional Facility (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

Gale Brewer wants to turn “prime, trophy real estate” into women’s jail

31-33 West 110th Street

A Harlem prison with Central Park views is closing down — and developers are ready

From left: 100 East 53rd Street, Alain Verzeroli, and Aby Rosen (Credit: Michelin Guide and Getty Images)

This restaurant will anchor Aby Rosen’s 100 East 53rd Street condo tower

Disgraced restaurateur Ken Friedman has applied for a liquor license on the North Fork (Credit: Getty; Cassie Hamilton/Google Maps)

Disgraced restaurateur Ken Friedman hits snag in Long Island comeback

Another tenant from last year’s Harlem fire is suing the landlord

Another tenant from last year’s Harlem fire is suing the landlord