Miami Herald: Thee Dollhouse Resurfaces in North Miami

Actual title of the Miami Herald Article:

NORTH MIAMI LIFTS BAN ON LIQUOR SALES IN STRIP CLUBS

By Paradise Afshar

After nearly four hours of discussion, a divided North Miami City Council voted Tuesday to repeal an ordinance that banned the sale and consumption of alcohol and adult entertainment in the same establishment.

The decision came down to a 3-2 vote with the dissents coming from Councilman Michael Blynn and Mayor Andre Pierre, who had voted for the repeal on first reading.

“We had the opportunity to listen to what the pros and the cons were, and there were very persuasive arguments on both sides,” Pierre said. “I kept going back and forth.”

Tuesday night’s meeting drew a large crowd to the council chambers. Many residents had to sit in the lobby area or stand because of a lack of space.

The Sunny Isles Eatery, the group that asked for the ordinance change, explained its plan to invest nearly $2 million into the former Locks Co. building at 2050 NE 151st St., to open an adult-entertainment club.

Although there are several other adult entertainment clubs surrounding North Miami, such as Dean’s Gold and Swinging Richards, this will be the only one of its kind within the city limits.

For Blynn the choice to vote against lifting the alcohol ban came down to morality.

“We have a high moral standard in our community, and we are not going to lower them,” said Blynn. He added the mix of alcohol and nudity would tarnish the family-friendly image of the city. “Good people do not attend places of that nature.”

But Councilman Scott Galvin said the council wasn’t in the position to judge morality.

“It’s not for the North Miami City Council to legislate morality,” said Galvin. “If I am opposed to liquor, it doesn’t mean I have to shut down every liquor store in the area.”

Prior to picking the North Miami site, the Sunny Isles Eatery ran Thee Dollhouse, which later changed its name to Beach House Cabaret, on Sunny Isle Beach.

The location closed after the city decided to create a park in the area the club stood, according to Jeff Cazeau, the attorney representing Sunny Isles Eatery.

“This is a business that wants to be a good neighbor,” Cazeau said. “We’re talking about 100 people employed when the club opens.” That number does not include dancers.

Cazeau assured the council and residents that his clients have made agreements with the city about the look and operations of the club, which include no flashing neon signs with words such as “girls, girls, girls,” and the club will open mid-afternoon to accommodate concerns about it operating during school hours, according to Cazeau.

Sunny Isles Eatery has also agreed to hire two off-duty North Miami police officers on site nightly for its first six months in business. That number will go down to one off-duty officer, and ultimately, the need for police presence will be discussed with the city manager.

The company also agreed to donate $100,000 to a charity to be selected in consultation with the city manager.

But many residents strongly opposed allowing adult-entertainment bars in the city.

“I believe it is wrong as it exploits women,” said Pastor Jack Hakimian of Impact Miami Church, adding some of his worries center around human trafficking, prostitution and the impact the club will have on families.

Hakimian was one of several local clergy who spoke to the morality of having such a club within the city’s boundaries.

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