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Strip club to open along I-405; Renton to review adult-use ordinance
A strip club – Club Sin Rock operated by a Las Vegas company – is getting ready to open near the intersection of Interstate 405 and SR 167 in Renton.
The opening has prompted the City of Renton to review its adult-entertainment regulations (title 5) that haven't been updated in more than 25 years.
The City Council Monday night imposed a a six-month moratorium on new adult uses while the review is under way. The moratorium is in effect, but the city is required to hold a public hearing, which is 7 p.m. March 22 at City Hall.
The moratorium doesn't affect the Club Sin Rock, which features nude women performing on a stage at least six feet away from the nearest patron. Like all strip clubs, it doesn't serve alcohol.
This is the first strip club ever in Renton, although in the mid-1970s a topless club called Toodie Twills operated for a couple years on Main Avenue until it was shut down.
The strip club – an owner prefers the term night club or gentleman's club due to changing attitudes toward such entertainment – has met all the regulatory and zoning requirements to locate in Renton.
"We would like to be treated like any legitimate business operating in the city," said Tim Lyons, a principal in Sin Rock LLC, the owners.
Renton is literally at the epicenter of the legal debate over where to locate adult uses.
Because of the landmark decision in 1986 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Renton vs. Playtime Theatres, cities can use zoning to control the location of adult theaters.
Any opening date for Club Sin Rock hasn't been finalized. Remodeling of the interior is continuing and the owners are continuing to hire workers, including the entertainers. The club expects to have between 50 and 75 workers.
Minimum age to work at the club or to come inside is 18 years old.
Lyons said the owners didn't "target" Renton for a Seattle-area location. But the visibility of the Club Sin Rock sign next to Interstate 405 (at the off-ramp to SR 167) "had a lot do with our location selection."
The sign is lit but is not neon. It was installed Saturday, featuring the words live, nude and showgirls, with the image of a woman's face but not her body.
The club is on Southwest 16th Street in a commercial and office part of Renton's valley floor designated for such establishments. Such adult uses are prohibited in residential areas and within 1,000 feet of places where kids and families frequent, such as schools and parks.
But, the valley area near the strip club has changed dramatically in the roughly 25 years since the adult entertainment ordinance was adopted, according to city officials. A nearby government agency and a major Renton employer have day-care centers for employees.
Because of the changes in the commercial makeup, the city wants to decide whether "we should have different restrictions," said Mayor Denis Law.
"The thing we would fear is that we would have four or five of those pop up on East Valley Road," he said.
Law said he's "sorry" to see the strip club locating in Renton. Generally speaking, from what he has read such clubs often attract criminal activity, including racketeering and prostitution, that continues to flourish despite police crackdowns.
"I don't know why this is going to be any different," Law said.
He wonders how the club can make a profit when the entertainers are required to remain six feet from the patrons.
But Law said he recognizes such adult uses are protected free speech.
Law plans to work with police and Renton's city attorney to explore a way to put "greater teeth" in the law to allow the city to shut down a strip club if there is illegal activity and offenders are prosecuted.
Alex Pietsch, the administrator of the Department of Community and Economic Development, said a strip club is not the type of business he would choose for Renton.
"It's not part of our economic development strategy," he said.
Lyons said he's sensitive to such concerns as expressed by Law, but the business will be professionally run. A similar club in Anchorage has had fewer than a half-dozen police complaints, he said. "We have an impeccable record," he said.
The Renton club has been in the planning process for about a year. "The city has made us jump through every hoop," Lyons said.
Once the club opens, police, code enforcement and other agencies will continue to monitor its operations to ensure it meets city regulations.
The business, the manager and the entertainers are all required to have a license.
The raised stage with its three-foot railing is the center of the club's interior. While the finishing touches haven't been made, two slanted pillars frame the stage. Water is already running from a fountain in the back. The walls are covered in cloth.
"It's a Las Vegas atmosphere," Lyons said. "It's very classy."
The seating extends to the sides of the stage, but there are no private rooms.
"We don't have private rooms," Lyons said. "We don't run a brothel."