By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 15, 2007
The nude-dancing license at Nexus Gold Club is being auctioned off tomorrow -- a reminder that the Southeast neighborhood near the new baseball stadium is aiming to be noted more for the well-dressed than for the scantily clad.
Nexus Gold shut its doors New Year's Eve because its site at 900 First Street SE was sold to a developer as part of a $40 million deal. JPI of Irving, Tex., plans to build about 200 luxury apartments and retail space on the site. Demolition of the club, which is in a warehouse-type building painted black, will begin in March, JPI said.
The license is a rarity because there are only 20 nude-dancing licenses in the city and there is a moratorium on issuing any more, according to Jeff Coudriet, director of operations for the city's Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration.
"This license is extraordinarily unique," said Chris Rasmus, whose Alexandria auction house, R.L. Rasmus Auctioneers, is selling it.
Rasmus estimates that the license is worth $2 million to $6 million. The license allows the winning bidder to open a club with a capacity of about 600, which would make it one of the largest strip clubs in the city, he said. The lighting and sound equipment in the club is also being auctioned.
"We're selling everything from the dance poles the girls dance on to the credit card machines, the metal detectors and the bar," Rasmus said.
To drum up interest, Rasmus sent e-mails, postal mailings and personal invitations to restaurateurs and owners of nightclubs and strip clubs from Massachusetts to North Carolina and west to Ohio -- plus Nevada.
Rasmus said more typical offerings on his auction block are dot-com companies, real estate, buses, restaurants and furniture from government agencies. "I've done a number of nightclubs, but this is my first nude-dancing place," he said.
Bidders for the license are required to deposit $10,000 to participate in the auction. The winner can use the license in any area of the District with the proper commercial zoning. The strip club must be at least 600 feet from any school, community center or houses, liquor board officials said. The new license owner would have to get approvals from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, and community members can protest.
The area around Nexus Gold was also home to a number of gay nightclubs, which were forced out of their leases as the expectation of new development near the stadium has made the land valuable.
Ron Hunt, who managed Nexus Gold, said he is using another license he has to put a strip club in the 2000 block of West Virginia Avenue NE, although he says the Nexus Gold in Southeast was "the best spot in the world."
"People knew where it was," he said. "It was a beautiful thing."