Strip Club Coming to Downtown?
City committee rules against exotic nightclub on Old World Third, then seems to open door to a location across from Bradley Center.
Yesterday, the owners of Silk Exotic, Six Star Holdings, LLC, were once again before the Common Council’s Licenses Committee attempting to obtain a license to open a strip club in downtown Milwaukee.
The location in question, 730 N. Old World Third St., has had a lot of names over the years. Most recently Rusty’s Old 50, and before that Martini Mike’s, and if you’ve been around for a bit longer you remember it as the Velvet Room, which Julie Lawrence, formerly of OnMilwaukee.com, dubbed one of Milwaukee’s first martini bars. In fact the Velvet Room was quite the place to be back 1999 when it was named Milwaukee’s Best Dress-Up Night Spot.
But do you remember that Mike Kozak and Jon Schweitzer, the owners of the Velvet Room, attempted to take the velvet clothes off back in 2000? They too were told to keep their clothes on, apparently fearing the ghosts of the Brass Rail and Princess Theater (adult entertainment venues that once stood on the vacant lot next to 730 N. Old World Third St.) would return to haunt the club.
These same fears drove a large contingency, including local business interests and residents from 720 N. Old World Third St., to oppose the Silk strip club. There was a question as to the validity of some speakers: a representative of Siegel-Gallagher, which operates the residential building at 720 N. Old World Third St., had posted a flyer offering residents of the building $100 off their rent if they spoke out in opposition to the club. At any rate, residents from 720 N. Old World Third St. spoke of feeling uneasy and unsafe living next to a strip club and some said they would move if it was approved. Responding to these concerns, John Ferraro, an owner of Silk, offered to provide security services to residents of the nearby building if need be.
Stephen Chernof, representing WAM DC LLC, a group promoting development along W. Wisconsin Ave., argued this “will be a significant detriment to our efforts,” and that the group will be unable to attract families and retailers to the area if there’s a strip club.
“It will mean lower property values,” said Stacie Callies, the executive director of Westown Association.
Beth Weirck, executive director of Milwaukee Downtown, argued the city needs to grow the city’s tax base, “not decrease it.”
Atty. Michael Whitcomb, representing Six Star, challenged these claims asking, “what is the largest development west of the river in the last 100 years? The Moderne,” and noted that it is very close to Art’s Performing Center, a strip club.
Support came from local nightlife staff and management looking for places to send clientele looking for high-end adult entertainment. Joel Harris, of Belmont Tavern, explained that, “I do refer them to Silk,” but called it a “lose lose” situation because he is sending customers out of downtown.
After hours of testimony the committee voted unanimously to deny the license. So is that the end of the story?
Nope. Surprisingly, Ald. Bob Bauman, who represents the area, let it be known that there is “a different location in downtown Milwaukee I would have no problem with,” a location where “the city is the landlord.”
Ald. Joe Dudzik joined in, saying “this operator will find a location in the near future” and Ald. Nik Kovac went so far as to say, “there probably is a place for this downtown.”
The place they are all talking about? The restaurant facility at 1118 N. 4th St., the former Center Court tavern located just across the street from the BMO Bradley Center, inside the city-owned parking structure at 4th and Highland. Center Court failed to pay rent for months forcing the city to evict them and auction off whatever remained in the facility to recoup some of lost revenue.
The Common Council recently voted to pay the Bradley Center $175,000, to assist in upkeep of the arena, using funds from the city’s parking fund to which the 4th and Highland garage contributes.
It is possible the city of Milwaukee will soon have a tenant that can actually pay the rent and help drive demand at the parking structure to pay for some of that $175,000 “gift,” as Ald. Nik Kovac called it. And that could be a new Silk strip club.
Construction in the Park East
Tomorrow afternoon Wangard Partners will hold an official ground-breaking ceremony for the Avenir, a mix-use building to be built in the Park East. The $20 million first phase of the development will include 104 apartments and 7,000 square-feet of first-floor retail.
Back in July, Stewart Wangard promised Urban Milwaukee that his company would break ground on the project “before the snow flies.” As there’s no snow in the forecast for Friday it looks like he will keep his promise. In fact, construction has actually started already. As is often typical with these official “ground breaking” ceremonies, they are more about photo ops than turning the first shovel of dirt.
VJS Construction Services, Inc is currently bidding out work on the project. It is requesting proposals for the following areas of work: rough carpentry (labor & materials), damp proofing / waterproofing, elevators, masonry – CMU walls only, structural steel, balcony assemblies & railings (design build), metal stud framing, and roofing.
- Help Wanted! Westown Association is hiring a new Marketing and Events Coordinator to replace Marissa Miller who is off to her next adventure. A detailed job description can found at here. The deadline to submit your resume is November 22, 2013. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re looking for work in Havenwoods, the Havenwoods Economic Development Corporation has a new job board with available jobs in the area.
- Did you miss it? Mayor Tom Barrett declared that yesterday, Nov. 6, 2013, was “Historic Water Tower Neighborhood Day” to honor the neighborhood group’s 40th anniversary.
- According to the Real Estate Journal, the National Ace Hardware building, 1303 N. 4th St., is up for sale. But don’t worry, according to the story National Ace Hardware “will continue operating at the location.”