Westbury finally has its name up in lights, the marquee on Post Avenue boldly declaring the arrival of a nearly $10 million performing arts center that's ready for business -- but just across the street, the Avanti nightclub is making waves.
As the rest of Post Avenue awaits the center's opening to help ignite the area's revitalization, the owner of the club at 272 Post, who will appear Thursday night before the Westbury Village board of trustees, is eyeing a special-use permit to continue as a cabaret bar.
The nightclub was effectively shut down last month by the board after residents and village leaders cited noise complaints, calls to the police and an ad the village claimed promoted a "swingers' party." One ad, provided by the village, uses the phrases "Swing Life Style" and "Start Your Sexual Revolution."
Peter Cavallaro, village mayor, said the club violated a condition limiting "adult uses."
The nightclub has touched a nerve, and residents are vigilant about protecting the village's reputation amid a decade-long transformation. Once Post Avenue was home to empty storefronts and a vacant, dilapidated theater, but the theater's planned reopening at 250 Post, and stores' new signage and refurbished storefronts have sparked hopes the area will thrive.
Village business leaders have recently launched an incentive program to lure chain and upscale retail stores.
At the board hearing last month, resident Nick Martone said, according to a transcript: "We don't need this garbage [from the club] in Westbury. Westbury is a beautiful village."
Cavallaro, in an interview after the hearing, said: "We felt we definitely had to stop him. . . .[the owner] We're spending a lot of time and energy and effort revitalizing the downtown."
However, Cavallaro said, the theater's opening did not directly influence his decision not to renew the club's cabaret permit. "We [still] expect that location to run as a club or a restaurant."
During the hearing, the club's owner, Barry Ceriano, said of a party held recently at the club, "There was nothing going on like that." But the mayor countered: "You or your promoter are promoting a series of events that are in direct violation of one of your covenants."
Linda Moebius, 62, who said she's lived in Westbury for nearly three decades, recalled driving near the club one night and four men banging on her car. "If they close that place down, it would be the best thing to happen. . . . It's another potential Don Juan," Moebius said, referring to the former Old Country Road nightclub, site of a fatal 2008 shooting.