By Bill Parry
City Councilman Costa Constantinides is urging the State Liquor Authority to deny the issuance of a liquor license to Vernon Wine & Liquor Inc. to operate a store down the street from the Astoria Houses.
Owner Xiao Wang applied for the license in August to open a location in what was a storefront church at 8-23 Astoria Blvd., which is next door to a facility that treats veterans with alcohol and substance addictions.
“I strongly believe a business established with the main driving purpose of selling alcohol would be a detriment to the surrounding community, which includes a veterans-focused rehabilitation facility and a public housing complex,” Constantinides wrote in a letter expressing his unequivocal opposition to the SLA. “Moreover given the utter disregard for neighborhood context, I believe the applicant has made it explicitly clear that they do not seek to work in tandem or with respect towards the community, but in hostile opposition.”
Wang, who used to own Baba Wine & Liquor at 3-15 27th Ave., could not be reached for comment.
Baba Wine & Liquor closed permanently in 2017 after receiving numerous violations and a $20,000 fine for selling liquor that had not been purchased from a licensed wholesaler, according to the SLA.
In his letter, Constantinides explains how inappropriate it would be to have a liquor store alongside Reality House, a not-for-profit medically certified outpatient facility that treats patients with alcohol and substance abuse issues. Reality House made Astoria its home in 2013 and the majority of its clients are from the neighborhood.
“The organization focuses a large part of its efforts in treating veterans and its facility has 30 beds specifically reserved for them,” Constantinides wrote. “For the applicant to disregard its proximity to such a center is a sign of arrogance, selfishness, and toxic hubris.”
Finally, Constantinides told the SLA that the location would be inappropriate because it is just a half-block away from the Astoria Houses, the 22-building NYCHA complex with 1,104 apartments and more than 3,200 residents.
“Opening a liquor store only a stone’s throw away from this housing development would be completely contradictory to all of the city’s, non-profit organizations’ and community leaders’ efforts to foster stability and improved quality of life,” Constantinides concluded.
Wang is schedule to go before the SLA Jan. 9.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr