Miami Gardens - Opa-locka

Opa-locka’s new 24-hour strip club faces closure after commission vote

Klub 24, Opa-Locka’s new strip joint, has become a touchy subject for the city commission.
Klub 24, Opa-Locka’s new strip joint, has become a touchy subject for the city commission. Miami Herald

Klub 24, Opa-locka’s flashy new strip joint, gets its name from its operating hours, offering up nude dancers and booze literally around-the-clock.

If the city commission has its way, a name change could soon be in order: Klub Zero, as in no hours at all.

In a 3-2 vote late Wednesday, the Opa-locka commission voted to shut down the adult entertainment venue, arguing it does not meet zoning and other legal requirements. But the meeting, marked by squabbling among commissioners and city officials, also revealed that there is considerable internal disagreement over whether the controversial club meets the letter of the law.

Vice Mayor Joseph Kelley made the move to have the city manager close the cabaret, located in a renovated warehouse once occupied by Crabby’s restaurant on Opa-locka Boulevard. Kelley said he pushed to revoke the club’s temporary certificate of occupancy — not because he’s a pastor at a local church — but because the city attorney advised the commission that it was operating illegally without proper zoning approval.

“If something happens at that establishment as it is now, we will be liable,” said Kelley, who was joined by commissioners Matthew Pigatt and Timothy Holmes to close the club. Mayor Myra Taylor and Commissioner John Riley opposed revoking its operating license, with Taylor saying she wanted to work out a compromise to avoid a lawsuit and Riley asserting that the city didn’t have the authority to shutter the club.

The lounge, complete with leopard-skin bar chairs, chrome stripper poles and flat screen TVs, has become the latest controversy in the troubled city — praised as a bit of economic progress by some but condemned by others offended by its X-rated entertainment.

How corruption and mismanagement pushed Opa-locka to the edge of insolvency.

City Manager Ed Brown sparred with Pigatt and Holmes over his authority to close a business that somehow was able to obtain zoning and other licensing approvals without being reviewed by the commission and planning council. Both commissioners said they wanted to fire Brown.

The city manager insisted that he did not have the authority to shut down Klub 24 after it had received its zoning license and other permits. He went so far as to say the city’s code “does permit nudity” — completely contradicting the city attorney’s opinion.

Brown also misrepresented information he got from the city’s building director in an email last week, saying the official was going to issue the final certificate of occupancy on Friday because Klub 24 had met all of its permit requirements.

Building Director Daniel Abia did not get an opportunity to challenge Brown at Wednesday night’s commission meeting. But a Miami Herald review of his March 23 email clearly shows Abia was only notifying the city manager and other officials that “Klub 24 cabaret has applied for final certificate of occupancy for their business” and that government inspectors have seven days to complete their last inspections and report to him.

In an interview Thursday, Abia said he was “shocked” by Brown’s misrepresentation of his email.

Abia said he now plans to begin the process of revoking the club’s 90-day temporary certificate of occupancy, which expires on April 20, after City Attorney Vincent Brown concluded Opa-locka’s issuance of a prior zoning permit was “in error.” Abia said that Klub 24, which is operated by the Booby Trap chain of strip clubs, would be given a “due process” hearing before its operating license would be revoked.

Abia insisted that the club needed not only zoning approval but also a “special exception” to the city’s ban on strip clubs from the commissioner and planning council. “I am not going to issue a final certificate of occupancy until they have met all of these requirements,” he told the Herald.

A lawyer for the club, Robert Fernandez, issued a statement on behalf of his client.

“Klub 24 has obtained all permits and licenses required by the City and the County to date. As such the Club is legally opened for business at this time. Nevertheless Klub 24 looks forward to working with the City, as it has done throughout the permitting process, to quickly and amicably resolve additional requests without any threats of closure or interruption of business activities which could result in costly and unnecessary litigation between the City and Klub 24.”

A lawyer for the club, Robert Fernandez, issued a statement on behalf of his client.

“Klub 24 has obtained all permits and licenses required by the City and the County to date. As such the Club is legally opened for business at this time. Nevertheless Klub 24 looks forward to working with the City, as it has done throughout the permitting process, to quickly and amicably resolve additional requests without any threats of closure or interruption of business activities which could result in costly and unnecessary litigation between the City and Klub 24.”

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