Thursday, October 26, 2006

Owners of a strip club near the baseball stadium under construction in Southeast are trying to move to the New York Avenue corridor in Northeast.

The owners of Club 55, which has operated for more than a decade at 55 K St. SE, have asked the District to transfer their liquor license to 3350 New York Ave. NE because their lease at the former location expired.

The proposed location, next to The Washington Times, would be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays and until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. A hearing on the move is scheduled for Dec. 20 before the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Andrea M. Bagwell, the owners’ attorney, said yesterday the proposed club will be “a very top-flight establishment.”

“You won’t even know it’s there unless you go looking for it,” she said. “The location is very good because it’s an industrial zone and it doesn’t interface with many homes.”

However, elected members of the city’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Ward 5, where the owners want to relocate, have voted unanimously against the move.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with this particular club, but we just don’t want any clubs on New York Avenue,” said William C. Shelton, chairman of advisory commission 5B.

“They said they were a high-end strip club, but that didn’t help,” Mr. Shelton said. “We just don’t want it there.”

A spokesman for The Washington Times said the club would undermine development efforts along New York Avenue.

“The District government and local business leaders have made great and positive advances to transform New York Avenue into an attractive gateway to our nation’s capital,” said Brian B. Bauman, spokesman for the newspaper. “The proposed establishment contradicts those admirable goals.”

Harry Thomas Jr., the Democratic nominee for the Ward 5 City Council seat, said he is not familiar with the details of the proposal, but he is concerned that dislocated strip clubs in and around the baseball stadium site will try to move to Ward 5.

“We have so much commercial property in Ward 5 that people might want to move to, but my concern is we don’t want to have an oversaturation of these kinds of places,” Mr. Thomas said.

However, Miss Bagwell said, critics of the proposal don’t know the history of Club 55 owners Deloris and Ronald Dickson.

“They’re a husband and wife team, and their business is a very well run establishment,” Miss Bagwell said. “There’s not a history of any problems with regard to police or public-safety issues.”

Miss Bagwell said the Dicksons have held community benefits over the years and that the club was featured on the HBO cable channel for hosting the Miss Black Nude USA pageant.

The building that Club 55 is trying to occupy is a warehouse thatdeveloper Douglas Jemal owns and has been vacant for years. Miss Bagwell said the Dicksons have signed a notice of intent to occupy the building but probably won’t sign a lease until the liquor license transfer is approved.

The former Club 55 site is under development by the Cohen Cos., of Rockville. The development company gave the club notice last year that it would not renew the lease.

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