Wisconsin DOT Buys Adult Store for $1.4M

OSHKOSH, Wisc. — After years of negotiation aimed at moving Supreme Video from its location at 945 N. Washburn St.,  Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials have paid owner Dan Boyle $1.4 million to allow them to demolish it in preparation for widening U.S. 41 to four lanes.

The adult store, which will be torn down in April, sits close to the intersection of  U.S. 41, the main north-south artery through Oshkosh, and U.S. 21, another major thoroughfare — by any standards, a prime location.

Oshkosh Director of Planning Services Darryn Burich said the store's property was only worth $348,000, but thanks to restrictive adult business ordinances, which require a business with arcade booths to be "set back" at least 500 feet from "sensitive uses" such as residences, schools, churches, day care centers, etc., no other location in the city could be found that was suitable for Supreme to reopen.

While the inability to relocate the store suggests that other adult businesses in the area may one day face a "zone out," which would be illegal under current law, Boyle has reopened his business as Supreme Lingerie and Gifts at 1911 S. Washburn St., approximately three miles south of his former location, and also along the U.S. 41 corridor.

It is unusual for state agencies to buy adult businesses, but with the adult industry increasingly gaining mainstream status, it may begin happening more frequently.

For instance, in August of last year, the town of Lavonia, Georgia spent $1 million to buy the Cafe Risque adult cabaret after suing for several years to shut the business, and even passing a zoning ordinance making such businesses illegal in Lavonia.

But when Club Risque's owner died in 2006, the city found his heirs more amenable to selling. Lavonia residents expressed the opinion that the money would have been better spent paying off the bond fund for the upgrade of the local water treatment plant.