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Mount Vernon Halts Strip Club Plan

Community Fights Back

By Imani Tibbs, Howard University News Service
On March 24, 2015

WASHINGTON – Ivan Kane was doing a brisk business in Atlantic City along its famous boardwalk at his Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub until disaster struck with the closing of four major Atlantic City hotels and casinos.

When they shut their doors, so did Kane’s club.

So, Kane planned to bring his business and its nearly nude women to the District of Columbia, 477 H. St. NW in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood, to be exact.

But neighborhood residents responded with a resounding “No,” and Douglas Development, the owners of the building where the club would have built, pulled

The historic corner at 477 H Street was the proposed site of a strip club.

the proposal in response to a withering onslaught of opposition and criticism.

Max Brown, the owner of nearby Chinatown Coffee, was one of the early and most vocal opponents.  He was the creator and curator of the Facebook group, “No Strip Club on H.”

 “This only shows the importance and the impact of one voice, or a group of voices, who believe strongly in a cause,” Brown said Monday (March 23).  

Brown lives above his store with his wife and two teenaged sons.   The club, he said, would have an immediate impact on his sons.

“They’re great kids, but putting a strip club within walking distance of their bedroom seems to be begging for trouble,” he said.

John Tinpe, chairman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission for the neighborhood, said stopping the club was a reflection of the community’s organization and resolve.

“This all started with a dialogue,” Tinpe said Monday (March 23), “Community and business met. The community felt that there was no place for the business and did something about it.”

Kane presented the proposed burlesque club to members of the Mt. Vernon community and local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) members in February. The site Kane chose, originally the home in 1910 of a branch of the International Exchange Bank, was most recently housed the Blinded Veterans Association and is a historic staple of the neighborhood.

The letter that helped halt club

A spokesperson for Douglas Development declined to discuss why the company pulled the project.

The proposal had faced opposition from the beginning.  The Rev. Lionel Edmonds wrote, “Our immediate membership is opposed to the proposed use of the basement as a strip club. The immediate and adjacent neighborhoods where our congregants worship and live are not interested in this use for the community.”

Brown posted a full copy of the letter in the window of his store.

Howard University News Service is a free wire service that delivers print and broadcast news stories to NNPA member newspapers on issues pertaining to minority communities. Video and print stories are produced by senior-level journalism students in the Howard University School of Communication's Department of Media, Journalism and Film, and are edited by professional journalists/professors in the department. The news service covers national and local events in and around the Washington area, including Congress and the White House.

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