Sunny passed away in March, but as of this week, his bar will live on. Via Goodyearsarah on Instagram

We’re all clinging to good news where we can find it right now, and we of course have a particular soft spot for good news that adds to the (admittedly very small) pile of old Brooklyn winning out over money and rampant new development. Yesterday, the Times reported that Sunny’s, arguably the best bar in New York City, the little misfit bar that could, a place trapped in time at the edge of the city, has won a three-year court battle to stay where it is and resist being sold off for development. Sunny passed away in March, but his widow Tone Balzano Johansen has ensured his memory won’t be erased from Red Hook as the neighborhood braces for redevelopment in coming years.

“I can’t let this be torn down for a view of the Statue of Liberty,” Ms. Johansen told the Times. “It’s ‘old Brooklyn’ wanting to hand it over to ‘new Brooklyn.’ Ironically, I am fighting to keep the story of ‘old Brooklyn’ alive.”

To purchase the building, Johansen will have to raise $2.6 million in six months, which is no small task, but we reckon people will be eager to help out (and you can bet we’ll point you toward a crowdfunding campaign if one emerges). Hurricane Sandy already nearly knocked Sunny’s down for the count, but fans raised $100,000 to keep bring it back. It’s still jam packed every weekend.

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The weekly bluegrass jam sessions in the back of Sunny's will live on. Via Facebook.
The weekly bluegrass jam sessions in the back of Sunny’s will live on. Via Facebook.

Imagine, for a second, a world where Sunny’s, the very heart of Red Hook, was torn down for some faceless, gleaming development. We’d enter a world where future generations would move to Red Hook for nothing but the view of the Statue of Liberty, which would probably eventually be blocked anyway by President Trump’s slant-drilling casino-border-wall megaplex and all-night buffet. Then Red Hook would become like the Williamsburg waterfront, a neighborhood of no special character whose original appeal, including all those late-night jam sessions in the back of Sunny’s, was long lost to time.

It’s not quite a trend yet, but Johansen’s quote above reminds us of this one from the owner of the former Pavilion Theater in Park Slope, who announced in September that instead of going condo, the property would become a new Nitehawk Cinema. As a Times story wrote at the time:

“Condos might have even made them more money, but ‘we had to decide, do we build condos or do we save Brooklyn?’ Steven J. Hidary said then. ‘So we saved Brooklyn.’”

Give us one more person who chooses to save Brooklyn instead of selling out and we’ve got a trend!

[h/t Chris Giganti and Emily Rinck]

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1 COMMENT

  1. Given the quickly growing number of fancy “going out clothes” on European tourists I’ve seen since Sandy, it seems like Sunny’s has landed in quite a few “NYC Off The Beaten Path” guidebooks. While this is all well and good — more business! — I wonder if there’s a better way to capitalize on the influx …

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