Group wants to open strip club in Downtown Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — No doubt, Downtown Austin is changing. You can see it all over with the influx of new businesses and new construction. But talk about one kind of new business is raising some eyebrows. A company plans to open a strip club on Congress Avenue at Fifth Street. The building, at 422 Congress Ave., is currently home to four bars. The planned club would take the space of one, according to an owner of one of the bars.

Csilla Somogyi has been designing dresses and outfits for years. When she opened her boutique at Fifth Street and Congress Avenue three years ago, a strip club right across the street wasn’t necessarily in her plans.

“I was a bit shocked, just because it’s a very unusual atmosphere,” said Somogyi.

But she says it wouldn’t bother her to the point of fighting it.

“To tell you the truth, I’d be more concerned about teens drinking than adults going to a club.”

The application for the strip club came from MB & MS Enterprises Inc. KXAN reached out to them Wednesday but didn’t get a response. Some people we talked to downtown don’t see a problem with that kind of establishment going in.

“I think it’s absolutely fine,” said Kate Giovino. “I think any business enterprise, any voluntary contract between humans, is completely acceptable.”

Others think it doesn’t belong and worry about the kind of people it would draw.

“[It] doesn’t really fit into the neighborhood,” said Nick McDonnough. “There’s new businesses about to go into this gigantic building [across the street]. I can’t imagine they’d want to be across the street from a strip club. That’s not what they signed up for.”

A good fit or not, it’s not stitched into the fabric of downtown yet.

“You don’t know until it actually happens,” said Somogyi. “There’s a long process.”

That process includes review from the city. The Land Use Commission will have to approve the permit application and will likely want public feedback. Members of the Downtown Austin Alliance have a meeting scheduled Friday to discuss their concerns.

Zoning laws

Adult-oriented businesses have to meet the same zoning rules as other bars and clubs, plus some other regulations. They must be at least 1,000 feet — or about 2.5 blocks — away from churches, schools, daycares, parks and playgrounds. Strip clubs, and even some shops, can’t be near each other under city code.

Also, a person cannot run an adult-oriented business from their home.

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