City of Milwaukee officials are working on a deal with three groups who have been attempting to open a strip club downtown for several years that would allow them to do so, in exchange for them dropping their lawsuits totaling more than $1 million.
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City officials are working on an agreement that would allow a strip club at 730 N. Old World Third[/caption]
Three unsigned agreements prepared by the Milwaukee City Attorney’s office and obtained by BizTimes would release the city of claims filed by Roaring 20s Management LLC, Six Star Holdings, LLC and Boardroom Entertainment MKE, LLC.
In exchange for the groups dropping their lawsuits, the city would hold a hearing this month on a license application for a strip club and agrees to “not enact legislation that substantially burdens the operation of such a gentleman’s club for a period of six years.”
The location of the club will be 730 N. Old World Third St., according to the documents.
Three attempts were previously made
to open a strip club at this location, which was previously Rusty’s Old 50 and before that, The Velvet Room.
In January 2016, people spoke at a city meeting for more than an hour
opposing a strip club at this site because of its proximity to the Shops of Grand Avenue and the revitalization efforts happening in the Westown neighborhood.
All three entities working with the city have attempted to open strip clubs downtown either at this location, or at 770-772 N. Milwaukee St. in the past, and have been denied a license.
The city has already been ordered to pay Six Star Holdings, which includes the Silk Exotic strip club owners, nearly $1 million
for denying those club owners a hearing on a theater license several years ago, violating the group's due process rights.
Other lawsuits have since been filed by Six Star and Boardroom Entertainment MKE, LLC., which includes Dusanka and Boro Buzdum.
If signed, the agreement settles the claims and prevents the three groups from suing in the future
“The city does not admit any liability to the plaintiffs for any of the claims asserted in the case, and the concessions made under this agreement shall not be construed as an admission of any such liability,” the agreement states.
What it does not do; however, is prevent any other outside group from suing the city of Milwaukee if they are denied a strip club license.
In September 2015, Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski wanted to introduce legislation
that would create designated neighborhoods for adult entertainment in the city, which he believed would stop future lawsuits. Those zoning changes never came to fruition.
The agreement currently pending between the strip club owners and the city attorney's office would keep such zoning changes from happening. It also does not keep the city from being sued by another operator in the future if they are denied a license, according to a source at City Hall.
The agreement is subject to approval by the Milwaukee Common Council. On Tuesday, the Judiciary and Legislation Committee met in closed session to discuss the matter. The Steering and Rules Committee will meet in closed session Thursday to review it.
Aldermen Ashanti Hamilton and James Bohl are leading the charge to get the legislation passed, according to a City Hall source. Bohl said he could not comment at this time and referred all questions to Assistant City Attorney La Keisha Butler who did not return phone calls.
Hamilton and Alderman Michael Murphy, who chairs the Judiciary and Legislation Committee, did not return emails seeking comment.
Attorneys for Silk and the Buzdum family did not return emails.