April 11, 2010 • Three poles, 40 to 50 girls and a 15-foot digital sign displaying eye-popping pictures of scantily clad women -- one of them in a skimpy baseball uniform with the words, "Visit us after the game."
Meet the neighbor the Mariners wish they didn't have -- the Dream Girls strip club.
It opens Friday at 2 p.m. at 1530 First Ave S. -- a mere 430 feet from the home plate gate at Safeco Field. A grand opening will follow Monday.
And did I mention Monday is the Mariners' home opener?
"We expect a nice, symbiotic relationship with the Mariners," Peter Buck, the club's attorney and spokesman, said from inside the 200-capacity club. "The Mariners are going to bring a lot of potential customers to our neighborhood."
And -- reluctantly, one would think -- to Dream Girls' front door.
In 2008 and 2009, the team filed a complaint and then a lawsuit alleging the city had violated its own rules when it gave Dream Girls a permit to operate so close to a place where children gather.
After a judge ruled the city had done no such thing, the neighbors settled. The Mariners agreed to drop their legal fight if the club agreed to contain all activity indoors, not place suggestive signage on Occidental Avenue -- along which many fans walk to games -- and tame all outdoor promotion on days when Safeco hosts events aimed at kids.
That includes benching Pixellated Baseball Babe.
"We're not looking for trouble, we're not asking for trouble," Mariners spokeswoman Rebecca Hale said Thursday. "The settlement is in place. That's really about it for us."
Reviews from nearby businesses were less complacent.
"During game season, there are children everywhere. It's just the most inappropriate place," said Laurie Boonstra, co-owner of Columbia Fire, a fire-protection company that's occupied a neighboring building for three years.
"As a female, I don't like to look at it. And the sign couldn't be any larger."
The sign, which was turned on for the first time Thursday, also bugged Brangien Davis, arts editor at nearby Seattle Magazine. She didn't expect it would be so "in your face," she said. She even blogged about it:
I don't think it really hit any of us fully until the signs were lit up today. We'll be walking into work right underneath the scantily clad, anything-goes images of women every day. And every night, when it's already kinda creepy down here in SoDo, we'll be making the walk from the office to our cars or the bus stop, past the signs and whatever skeezballs are hanging around all jacked up on the promise of 2-4-1 action.
Upstairs at broadcast company Clatter & Din, owner Peter Barnes shared a different concern: That the club's clientele -- who can access valet parking in 40 underground stalls -- could make parking more difficult than it already is for businesses along that stretch of First and Occidental avenues. Otherwise, he said, he had no real complaints.
"We're in the entertainment business to a large degree. We don't get offended easily," he said. Besides, Sodo could use some growth. "It's sort of nice to have any business going on."
Attorney Peter Buck adjusts the chairs during a press tour of Dream Girls. (Joshua Trujillo/Seattlepi.com)
In an unusual public relations move, Buck and club supervisor Matt Teasley hosted a media tour of Dream Girls on Thursday to show us, as Teasley put it, that this was no "back alley club," but an "upscale establishment that caters to all kinds of people."
The interiors were not low-brow, but not what you'd call ritzy. The club has lots of reds and purples, high-backed chairs and knotted, curtain-lined walls. Art prints of nude women Teasley said he found in London have an elegant sensuality, sure, but also the kind of laminated glaze of paintings you'd find in a room at the Marriott.
The $20 lap dance rooms were private, the five mezzanine-level lounges clean and the bar -- which will not serve alcohol, in accordance with city rules -- quiet?
Let's be honest: There's only so much you can tell about a strip club's impact before it's even served its first customer.
But the club will do more than behave, Buck said. It will uphold a "very strong moral standard" and do a service in giving fans who had too much to drink at the game a place to sober up before they get in their cars.
"We think we can do our part in contributing to the neighborhood and it should be a win-win situation," Buck said.
The city had a moratorium on adult cabarets for 17 years until it was lifted in 2007 and replaced with restrictions on where strip clubs could be located. They have to be at least 800 feet away from schools, public parks, community centers and open space, and away from other adult-only entertainment.
The Mariners' lawsuit was the first real test of the city's regulations.
DÃ©jÃ Vu, which owns Dream Girls, operates six other clubs in the state and two in Seattle -- the Showgirls adult cabaret across from Pike Place Market and Little Darlings, set a block from the federal courthouse.
April 11, 2010
• "whatever skeezballs are hanging around all jacked up on the promise of 2-4-1 action"
I resemble that remark!
April 12, 2010 • Like the Mariners won't make that their new hang out. Geez.
April 12, 2010 • Ballgame, ball game, whatever. I'm sure the dancers and the club owners are looking forward to a few millionaire players stopping in from time to time. In the meantime, everybody else will be having fun sobering up on the way home. What a public service!
April 12, 2010
• "and whatever skeezballs are hanging around all jacked up on the promise of 2-4-1 action."
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