"Rock And Roll Playhouse": More Details About Peter Shapiro's New Gowanus Venue

Photo credit: Googlemaps.com
280 Bond Street
Warehouse building at 280 Bond Street
View of open garage, which will be used as outdoor space by venue

On Monday,  I posted  about the Rock And Roll Playhouse, a new venture by Peter Shapiro, which is slated to open later in 2013 in Gowanus.  RRPH will feature children's music programing by day, family programing and shows in the evening, followed by evening jazz performances at night. In addition, Blue Ribbon Restaurants will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Yesterday evening, I received an email from Shapiro and the Rock And Roll Playhouse with a letter to the community, which provides additional information regarding the new business at 280 Bond Street, between Sackett and Degraw Streets.
I am reprinting the letter in full below.
May 20, 2013

Dear Community,
The Rock and Roll Playhouse (RRPH) is a new business located at 280 Bond Street in Brooklyn, which we expect will open to the public later this year. We are currently under construction on site with a number of improvements to the interior and exterior of the building, and wanted to take this opportunity to share more details about the eventual programming of the RRPH.

The RRPH was created on the premise that all people are musical and that families should have a space where they can enjoy music together. Our team is comprised of people with diverse backgrounds in education and music who have come together with the goal of creating a new and better type of destination for families. Our education team has developed specific programming for RRPH that emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach, using music as the core while simultaneously encouraging cognitive, physical, emotional and language development skills. 
Developmentally appropriate programming has been created for four age ranges: Babies (under 1 year old), Little Rockers (2-4 years old), Rockers (5-7 years old) and Big Rockers (8-10 years old). We expect RRPH will offer over 20 different programs for the different age groups including: Beatles for Babies, Little Rockers, Rockers, and Big Rockers; Reggae for Babies and Little Rockers; Rock and Roll Storytime for Little Rockers; a theatrical Rock and Roll Stories for Rockers; World Music for all age groups; Drawing Rock and Roll; and Introductory programs focused on Songwriting, Guitar, Percussion and Keyboards. 
In addition to such specific programming, the RRPH will also offer an area for children to play in both our outdoor garden and our indoor main space. These spaces will have play equipment from Imagination Playground and Feel Good Designs, which we expect will create a beautiful and stimulating environment for families of all ages. The outdoor courtyard will be transformed from what is currently a concrete truck parking lot to a grass covered lawn with Willow and Juniper Trees.
Family friendly shows will be offered before 8 p.m. to our customers. Those shows will include musical performances, theatrical performances, and special shows presented by the children participating in our programs.
During the evenings, we also plan to host adult workshops and will work with members of our education team to develop programming for adults. Examples of adult programs include talks and workshops led by prominent artists about music, film, and the arts, and we are currently developing the curriculum for an adult version of Rock History Workshop.
Following the daytime activities and traditional family dinner hours, we also hope to use the play space as a seated venue where adults can enjoy jazz and educationalprogramming. The capacity for seated events will be approximately 96 persons (total legal capacity for the building 182). We will not begin the evening jazz performances until after the RRPH has successfully opened and become part of the community. We will work closely with the community on the timing and nature on the evening jazz programming. 
We are also pleased to be partnering with our friends at the acclaimed Blue Ribbon Restaurants to operate the food and beverage at the RRPH. The RRPH will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and feature an approachable menu highlighted by children friendly ingredients that allows parents the flexibility to choose healthy meals for their families.
Peter Shapiro, the owner of the RRPH, began development of a family-focused destination for the enjoyment of music two years ago after seeing first-hand how much families enjoy afternoon Family Bowl at Brooklyn Bowl, a business he founded in Williamsburg. A father of two young children, Peter is a both a businessman and an active member of the communities in which he lives and does business. Besides Brooklyn Bowl and the RRPH, he is responsible for a number of businesses which involve music, including Jazz and Colors in Central Park, Relix magazine, and The Capitol Theater. After an extensive search for an appropriate site for the RRPH, Peter signed a lease for the disused space at 280 Bond Street in October 2011. 
We are eager to be good neighbors and work with the Carroll Gardens/Gowanus communities to ensure that the RRPH is a unique and valued asset to the families in the neighborhood. To that end we have identified local vendors and craftsman to assist with the renovation of the space, dialogued with members of the community to understand their concerns, paid careful attention to the layout and structure of the space to ensure that it addresses those concerns, including considerable effort with professionals regarding noise reduction and attenuation construction and materials. 
We are excited to bring this family-friendly space to the neighborhood and appreciate the support we have received from those we have shared our plans with. We look forward to becoming a valued member of the community.  If you have any questions, please email us at: community@therockandrollplayhouse.com. 
Sincerely,  The Rock and Roll Playhouse Team
Because the team stated in their email to me that Peter would be more than happy to answer questions, I took the opportunity to ask him if he would consider using this particular site for music classes and activities for families without the late night jazz club.
His reply:
"Family friendly programming has always been the primary focus of The Rock and Roll Playhouse. "Jazz at The Rock and Roll Playhouse" is an idea we thought would be a fun and positive asset to the community and compliment our Blue Ribbon dinner service when the kids are asleep. When we initially open, we do not plan to host jazz performances at night. We look forward to exploring when to begin hosting evening Jazz performances with the input of the community." 
It's encouraging that Peter Shapiro will seek input from the community. Since the warehouse building on Bond Street abuts residential buildings, the late night portion of Shapiro's plan will certainly impact the lives of the families who live just steps away. Understandably, residents of those neighboring homes have expressed serious concerns about the Playhouse.
They have recently formed We are Gowanus and are currently collecting signatures here.

I forwarded RRPH's Community letter to We Are Gowanus  and asked the group for a response. 
Here is WAG's rebuttal :

May 21, 2013

Dear Community,

Peter Shapiro is talking about childhood education, but he’s building a nightclub. His latest letter shows how disingenuous he really is in dealing with the neighborhood’s valid concerns.

To be clear, his own statements to residents and his Department of Building plans show plainly that a nightclub is exactly what Shapiro will install there, if given the opportunity. To recap what we already know: the 21-and-over nightclub would be open 7 days a week, serving alcohol up until approximately 2am. It will be capable of hosting more than 1500 standing patrons at a time.

Few in the area would quibble with Shapiro about opening a children’s school and small restaurant in the neighborhood. Simply put, that is not what he intends to do. Shapiro, in his letter, makes it seem as if children and families are the focus of his new venue, while the nightclub is an afterthought. In truth, Shapiro has it the other way around.

He has meticulously laid out the plans for his nightclub, while little thought has gone into the supposed education facility he describes as providing classes from morning till night. Shapiro’s DOB plans show no hint that a child might ever grace the door of the Rock & Roll Playhouse for any educational pursuit at all. According to officially filed documents, there are no classrooms planned, only mezzanine offices that propose to hold a maximum of 6 people. It must be assumed then, that instruction will occur interspersed amid patrons consuming food in the Theater space, where they will be offered breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. At 8pm, the 21-and-over crowd takes over and will be served alcohol up to 2am.

In fact, there are no child-sized toilets planned for the venue, nor does anything else seem specifically child oriented in the filings or conversations that the neighbors have had with RRPH representatives. Has Shapiro begun the laborious process of city certification and insurance to open this day school? We have no evidence of that.

The truth is that Shapiro has little understanding of what it would take to open a school in the location because he doesn’t really intend on opening one — except as a wedge to gain a full liquor license for a 21-and-over club. Let’s be honest here. What is the moneymaker for Shapiro, the man who brought New York the famed Wetlands and is currently franchising his deservedly popular and industrially situated Brooklyn Bowl? Is he really aiming to pack 280 Bond with tykes dancing to “Beatles for Babies,” or does he hope for hundreds of 21-year-olds with disposable cash drinking until 2am? The answer seems clear.

If you have any questions or would like to support our organization, please email us at wearegowanus@gmail.com.

Sincerely, We Are Gowanus