City of South Bend buys strip club for $350,000

A strip club that has operated at 1505 S. Kendall for some 25 years is suddenly being purchased by the City of South Bend for $350,000.

The strip club formerly known as Starz, and more recently as Centerfolds, was appraised in May at $26,250.

“You have not only the property itself, but then the relocation cost for the business owner there's all the moving costs,” said South Bend Redevelopment Commissioner Valerie Schey who voted in favor of the purchase. “The price was the highest of the three that went through redevelopment that day, but it was not completely out of line with the prices, the other prices that we paid for those properties.”

Centerfolds actually stayed in the same place so long it ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The business lies at the southern border of Ignition Park—which the city has high hopes of filling with high tech businesses after it ushers out longtime tenants like Centerfolds.

“In this example, you have a building that's not worth $30,000, a business that's not worth much by any estimates of those coming and going from it,” said Patrick Mangan, Executive Director of Citizens for Community Values. “You have at that point, taken somebody who had a somewhat worthless business that was driving down the value of other business and you’ve empowered them to go become a problem to another neighborhood.”

Citizens for Community Values is upset about what the city failed to get for its money. “I would certainly hope that if this kind of taxpayer funds were being invested, that there would be an agreement with the owner that they're not going to pop up somewhere else,” said Mangan.

It took the city some three years to negotiate the sale. At one point, a check of properties on the real estate market failed to find a single one where Centerfolds could relocate because none of the sites had the proper zoning.

An adult cabaret must be located in an area zoned General Industrial. Furthermore, a cabaret cannot operate within 500 feet of a residentially zoned area, a church or a school.

The owner, Darrel Austin, agreed to accept a lump sum payment and the sole responsibility to find a new location—if that’s possible.

A note on the door of Centerfolds indicated that the owner was on vacation but that the business would reopen Friday, August 2nd.

The South Bend Redevelopment Commission agreed to pay $300,000 to purchase Barany Sheet Metal operations at 725 W. Indiana Avenue.

The commission also agreed to spend $90,500 for the former United Plumbing properties at 913 – 915 Indiana and 1522 Prairie Avenues.

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