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Ivy City Residents Petition New Strip Clubs' Licenses

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The AKA Club, a strip club coming to Ivy City that has raised concerns among some residents, will face the Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Armando Trull
The AKA Club, a strip club coming to Ivy City that has raised concerns among some residents, will face the Mount Olivet Cemetery.

Ivy City is a small area in Northeast, nestled between New York Avenue Metro station, Mount Olivet Cemetery and Gallaudet University. It's a mix of largely empty warehouses, small wood or brick homes, and now, a million-dollar strip club, with two more on the way.

Pastor Gregory William of the Bethesda Baptist church says the community needs economic development, but not this type.

"We don't want the community to become a dumping ground for this type of activity, this type of commerce, whatever they want to call it," he says.

The area has housed strip clubs in the past, and resident Willie Russell says the businesses brought in prostitution and violence. ?

"At one time it became a shoot 'em up zone," says Russell. "It was like the Wild West."

But the clubs' management insist they will not be a detriment to the neighborhood. "While they may have a different experience with other clubs, it's unfair to hold us to a standard by which they have no frame of reference for," says Paul Kadlick, president of the AKA Club, which is slated to open on West Virginia Avenue.

He says it will be a million-dollar upscale gentleman's club. ?

"At full staff, we will probably have 100 entertainers and probably 40 full time staff contributing to the District's tax base," he says.

Not if the Ivy City Neighborhood Improvement Association has its way.

Spokesman Don Padou says they have filed a petition with the Court of Appeals to review how the Stadium Club and AKA licenses were granted.

"We're alleging that it was a violation of the zoning laws to allow these clubs to move here," Padou says. "We're alleging the ABC Board did it in secret."

Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas Jr., whose district includes Ivy City, has supported the applications of the clubs and says these upscale strip clubs can be good corporate neighbors. He also bristles at suggestions that his support is due to political contributions from some club owners.

"Now they want to start a group called the Neighborhood Improvement Association and affect people's lives where they don't live as opposed to looking at the reality that we work with communities," he says. "This process has been going on and has been very community driven." ?

It's unclear when the Court of Appeals and the zoning board will issue their findings.

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