Mr. Nightclub Smells the Coffee

And then there’s Club Deep, a cavernous, two-story 20,000-square-foot venue in the Flatiron district, with separate entrances on West 21st and West 22nd streets.

“That’s a story in itself,” said Mr. Picken, whose clients, the club’s owners, dramatically slashed their asking price from $3.5 million to $750,000 last November, amid much turmoil with neighborhood block associations, the local community board and the State Liquor Authority.

Litigation over the club’s liquor license went all the way to a state appellate court. The allegedly rowdy club ultimately lost its license and eventually got evicted; its landlord is now attempting to bring in some sort of dry retailer.

“There was so much value there,” said Mr. Picken, who noted the monthly rent was just $40,000. “Which is nothing,” he added, for a space of that large size. “But everybody felt that the community board was just going to object to any kind of liquor license there.”

Even though approaching middle age himself, Mr. Picken has little sympathy for the noise-rattled neighborhood groups that are increasingly thwarting his clients’ attempts to get and retain their liquor licenses citywide.

“Even in Nolita, which is really hot now, their community board is just kind of nuts,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get a license.

“I understand that there are certain people that have low-level apartments that hear noise at night and that’s not fun, but, you know, the noise you get from the garbage trucks is probably worse,” he later added. “I just encourage them to get double-paned windows.”

That’s not to say that deals can’t be made. Mr. Picken pointed to a rather lucrative leasing deal at Terminal 5, a 40,000-square-foot concert hall that opened in the old Club Exit space on West 56th Street last summer. “The rent is over $1 million a year, and it’s a 25-y
ear lease,” he said.

Mr. Picken also recently followed the lead of former Studio 54 co-owner Ian Schrager and got involved in the hotel business, helping to negotiate the January sale of the old Riverview Hotel on Jane Street to local hospitality honchos Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode. Other hotel deals are in the works, he said.

Yet, given the increasing hostility toward liquor sellers in many parts of town, Mr. Picken is advising future club operators to seek out less traditionally nightlife-dense, largely commercial frontiers, including midtown and … the Financial District?

“I know it sounds weird and people are going to be reluctant. That’s like another world down there!” he said.

“I could see more stuff going on in Brooklyn, too, with the warehouses over there,” he added. “We’ve had more action over there, lately. But everybody knows Manhattan to be the hub of it all. This is the biggest, best city in the world, and for it to lose its nightlife component, it’s going to hurt us. There’s no doubt at all.”

Mr. Nightclub Smells the Coffee