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Try, and try again: “Silk Exotic” gentleman’s club fights for downtown location

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A group trying to bring an "upscale gentleman's club" closer to downtown Milwaukee is once again taking a shot at it. Paperwork has been filed with the city for two new possible locations.

The Iron Horse Hotel is rated one of the best boutique hotels in the country, and it may be getting a new neighbor. Silk Exotic wants to open a club nearby. The effort has failed before, but new in this attempt -- a big fat lawsuit.

On Barclay Street in Walker's Point, sits a once troubled club.

"It's not the classiest. It's also not the nicest," said Jessica Ruditys, who lives nearby.

While it looks fancy from the outside, Ruditys says, looks can be deceiving.

"We've witnessed a lot of fights," said Ruditys.

After numerous complaints, the owners of "Social Live" lost their liquor license. However, the doors may not be closed long.

Just over a week ago, the owners of Silk Exotic gentleman's club filed paperwork to open a business at two different locations.

"He is not looking to open two places. It's one or the other," said trial consultant, Sarah Crandall.

A consultant for Silk Exotic says the plan is to open a club on Barclay Street, or down the road at an empty building across from the Iron Horse Hotel.

The fight to bring a gentleman's club closer to downtown Milwaukee isn't a new one. Silk Exotic has lost battles to open a new location in the location of the Ladybug Club, across from the BMO Harris Bradley Center, and on Old World Third Street, among other spots.

Each time, the plan was shot down by the city's Licensing Committee -- so why try again?

"We've won the liability phase," said Crandall.

The owners have so far been successful in suing the city. Recently, a federal judge agreed with the club's owners that portions of the ordinances used to deny the group a license were unconstitutional.

A trial date is set for February to determine damages.

"The forensic accountant has said $1.1 million," said Crandall.

Owners of Silk Exotic say the city can still avoid the payout, if they simply agree to approving a license.

"We have to listen to neighbor testimony, hear arguments on both sides," said Crandall.

Alderman Tony Zielinski, who chairs the Licensing Committee, says each application will get a fair hearing in the coming weeks. He also said any options of a settlement won't be discussed in public.

"Any decisions that we make along those lines are going to be in consultation with our City Attorney's Office," said Crandall.

Silk Exotic says they're going after an upscale crowd. They currently operate in three locations, and say they are a great neighbor.

The proposals could be in front of the Licensing Committee later this month. The Licensing Committee is expected to next meet on Monday, October 20th.

4 comments

  • JC

    If Silk was downtown I bet attendance at Bucks games would go up. Downtown has been a dead zone for years for nightlife add a little spark to get things moving.

  • cheyenne

    I think Silk would be a great asset in the downtown area, there’s sloppy low-scale strip clubs right on juneau, downtown could use a little class. I also think it would help downtown become more popular with a better crowd. It’s about time the city just license them!

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