Club Set For Overhaul After Shooting

DSC01920Timothy J. Stenovec The Sin Sin Lounge, where a clubgoer was fatally shot in August, will shutter its nightclub operations later this month and re-open as new type of venue.

The Sin Sin lounge is undergoing a major makeover.

The Local has confirmed reports that the lounge, the scene of a fatal shooting of a clubgoer in August, will close its doors at the end of the month to undergo renovations and re-open as a new type of venue with a different theme.

Sin Sin had become a focal point for neighborhood complaints about violence and noise at bars after the shooting death of Devin Thompson, who was 43, outside the club on Aug. 22. No arrests have been made in connection with Mr. Thompson’s death although the police want to question two men who were at the club the night that he was killed.

A post Tuesday on EV Grieve was one of the earliest indications that changes might be coming to the bar. Posts on other blogs offered similar reports.

The owners of the lounge did not return calls seeking comment.

One of the people who confirmed the changes at the club was an employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the owners.

Another person involved with the club, Mariella Gonzalez, who organizes an open mic rapping event at Sin Sin each Monday, said that one of the club’s owners recently told her that she had until the end of the month to find a new venue for her event.

Ms. Gonzalez said that the owners told her in recent days that Sin Sin would close for renovations and that a kitchen would be installed before the venue was reopened with a new approach.

“They’re renovating and putting in a kitchen and giving the place a different vibe,” Ms. Gonzalez said.

Just after 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Sin Sin was quiet. A bartender stood between the bar’s crimson walls and dark wooden counter, chatting with the only two customers in the room.

603-10 9 Pct 08-22-10-PhotoInvestigators want to question these two men in connection with the Aug. 22 shooting death of Devin Thompson.

It seemed a far cry from the venue that neighbors vowed to oppose. In response to neighborhood concerns about violence at the club, an owner of the lounge, Philip Quilter, said at a Ninth Precinct Community Council meeting last month that he had implemented several safety measures, including the use of handheld metal detectors.

That had not been enough to assuage the concerns of the club’s fiercest detractors.

Bill Koehnlein lives on East Fifth Street near Second Avenue, just down the block from the club. Mr. Koehnlein, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of the lounge, learned from The Local that Sin Sin planned to close its doors.

“Bar proliferation, and the resulting decay of neighborhood cohesion and quality of life, is one of the worst problems in the East Village, and Sin Sin is one of the worst of these socially destructive businesses,” Mr. Koehnlein wrote in an e-mail message. “If it is true that it will soon be gone I’m very happy. Good riddance.”

Mr. Koehnlein said that a campaign to urge the State Liquor Authority to revoke the liquor license that Mr. Quilter holds at the establishment would continue.

“He should not be given any right to continue his operation under a new disguise,” Mr. Koehnlein said of Mr. Quilter.

Despite the tumult surrounding the club, Sin Sin is not without its supporters.

Chaz Kangas, who has been performing at Ms. Gonzalez’s weekly rap events since 2005, discussed the changes at Sin Sin on his blog Tuesday.  In the blog post, Mr. Kangas reported he was “truly devastated” to learn the rap events would not continue at Sin Sin.

Mr. Kangas said that while he understands the community’s concerns, he felt safe at Sin Sin. “It was just a cool place to come relax, and know you could perform and see some good hip-hop,” said the 24-year-old Mr. Kanga, who lives in Upper Manhattan.

Standing in the red light of Sin Sin’s electric signage Tuesday night, Mr. Kangas gazed through the club’s open window, reminiscing about the many nights he had spent there.

“Everyone has places they love when they come to New York,” said Mr. Kangas, who came to New York from his native Minnesota in 2004. “This was the last place like that for me, that was still around.”

What do you think about the closing of the Sin Sin lounge?