A plan to transform the stately old theater at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 47th Street into a $10 million First Avenue theater, bar and restaurant, threatened to ruffle feathers among the many institutions that operate nearby, including at Trinity Church. While the group stage left went out on a limb and supported a proposal to keep the theater, Bernardo’s Cafe, open for the coming year, the Independent Democratic Conference withdrew their support on Sunday, in part because the committee had already voted on Saturday evening to defer a final decision until Tuesday night.
So far, the closure of Bernardo’s has been largely uncontroversial. There is still little doubt that the theater is an inviting venue. This near-ventured into controversy was about the identity of a basement cocktail lounge, and whether it was fair to charge property taxes on a private part of a public space. In the best embodiments of political theater, it’s expected that the political stakes will be high on Tuesday, and both Bernardo’s and the I.D.C.’s plan will be on the table.