Jan. 10, 2019 By Christian Murray
A liquor store operator who planned to set up a new store next door to a substance abuse clinic in Astoria was told by the State Liquor Authority yesterday to open up elsewhere.
Xiao Wang, who operated the now-shuttered Baba Wine & Liquor at 3-15 27th Ave., went before the SLA yesterday to get a liquor license so he could open a store at 8-23 Astoria Blvd.
The site is next door to Reality House, a facility that treats veterans with alcohol and substance abuse addictions, and is near Astoria Houses, a large public housing development.
Wang told the SLA that he chose the Astoria Boulevard location since it is near his old 27th Avenue store that was demolished to make way for development. He said it took him a year to find a site nearby.
But the SLA said this was not the place for him.
“I don’t think this is the right location,” said one of the commissioners at the hearing yesterday. “Imagine you go for [alcohol] treatment and right next door there is a liquor store.”
The decision was announced at around the same time that Council Member Costa Constantinides and community leaders—such as Bishop Mitchell Taylor of Urban Upbound and Claudia Coger of Astoria Houses- held a rally outside the proposed location to announce their opposition.
Happy to report #SLA has denied the applicant a liquor license to operate next to Reality House. The person has been told to find another location, and we will make sure it doesn’t negatively impact our community. https://t.co/wVjLpS7jX5
— Costa Constantinides (@Costa4NY) January 9, 2019
The rally came a month after Constantinides and Assembly Member Cathy Nolan wrote letters to the SLA in opposition to Wang’s application.
Constantinides praised the SLA for rejecting the license via twitter late Wednesday.
“Happy to report #SLA has denied the applicant a liquor license to operate next to Reality House. The person has been told to find another location, and we will make sure it doesn’t negatively impact our community.”
“I am still shocked someone displayed the toxic hubris to even attempt to open a liquor store her,” Constantinides later said in a statement to AstoriaPost.
Wang came to the hearing with a history of violations stemming from his 27th Avenue store. In July 2017, he was fined $20,000 for selling liquor that had not been purchased from a licensed wholesaler and for not allowing an inspector onto his premises during normal business hours.
Wang was unable to be reached for comment yesterday.
(SLA Hearing Jan. 9, 2019. Application starts at 1:18:30)