By Mark Hallum
While Neir’s Tavern, the 180-year-old Woodhaven drinking establishment, had its application for landmark status rejected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in May, owner Loycent Gordon says his battle to achieve that status for his establishment is far from over.
Built in the 1820s at 87-48 78th St., Neir’s represents what little remains of the Union Race Course, which was Woodhaven’s main attraction at the time. The tavern was adjacent to the track.
Gordon, a firefighter and business owner, has pushed for several years to get Neir’s the recognition and protection he says it deserves. The community, along with Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), rallied in support of the tavern achieving landmark just a week before its application was rejected.
According to Gordon, the LPC response to the application was in sum, “Neir’s Tavern does not rise to the level of significance to warrant landmark status.” The response went on to say that giving the tavern landmark status would not protect it from future development.
“We’re very saddened by this and feel like it’s a slap in the face to something that’s so obvious and one-sided compared to all the landmarks that were easily acquired in Manhattan,” Gordon said, referring to the small number of landmarks in the outer boroughs.
In response to the rejection, Gordon said he has launched an online petition to further rally support. He is also working with representatives from the mayor’s office who disagree with the decision to turn down the application.
“While the rest of the city is busy expanding and developing, it is important that we remember the structures that tell the story of Queens, and it is our responsibility to protect and preserve them. Landmarking the more than 180-year-old tavern would ensure the building and its surroundings will remain unchanged and safe from developers for years to come. Neir’s is already a landmark as far as the people of Queens, especially Woodhaven, are concerned, but it deserves the respect of being officially named as one by the city,” state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said.
Neir’s has not only been as a longtime neighborhood beer joint, it was also the setting of a scene in Martin Scorsese’s iconic Mafia film, “Goodfellas.”
“Neir’s is already a landmark in the eyes of countless people, and is really like no other place in the city. It has lasted through generations upon generations of patrons and is a staple in Woodhaven,” Crowley said in May. “It is the feeling of familiarity, family and community that makes Neir’s more than just a bar—it is home, it is part of our lives. The LPC should more often look towards our borough of rich, historic treasures. During a time when development is on the rise in our city, so many mom-and-pop stores and small businesses lose out to bigger companies. We cannot risk that happening to Neir’s Tavern.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall