Proposed Strip Club Owners Sue City of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Pittsburgh is not a city that's friendly to adult businesses, as evidenced by disputes and adverse newspaper articles stretching back more than two years. But the city still needs to comply with the law, and the owners of two companies that want to build a strip club in the city's "North Shore" district, near the planned Majestic Star slot machine casino and just down the road from two sports stadiums, have claimed in a lawsuit filed yesterday that the city zoning process violates the law.

The companies are Pennsylvania Avenue Pittsburgh Properties (PAPL) LLC, which has obtained the right to buy the property at 1620 Pennsylvania Ave., less than 1,000 feet from the Ohio River, and HDV-Pittsburgh LLC, which would lease the land from PAPL to build its club.

The proposed site is in an industrial district - four manufacturers already call the address home - and it fulfills the requirements of the city's adult zoning ordinance that it be at least 1,000 feet from other adult entertainment uses, an amusement arcade, a hotel, a motel, a bar or nightclub, as well as at least 500 feet from a religious assembly, a library, a cultural services center, a child care center, a school, a community center, residential buildings - even the houses on West North Ave. that scotched another proposed club two years ago - and a public assembly. It's even more than 1,000 feet from the Majestic Star, which will be built adjacent to PNC Park.

HDV's plans are for an adult cabaret featuring exotic dancers who may get fully nude, according to the company's lawsuit, which charges that adult businesses are, for all practical purposes, "zoned out" by the city's zoning plan, and also that the law vests "unbridled discretion" with the zoning board regarding whether to permit activities such as stripping to take place. Such discretion was ruled unconstitutional in the 1990 Supreme Court decision in FW/PBS v. City of Dallas.

The companies' lawsuit seeks a ruling that would prohibit the city from attempting to enforce the "adult entertainment use" portions of its zoning ordinance, and also seeks damages, with the amount yet to be specified.