The 1819 Club, a strip club on M Street NW, was sold at a bankruptcy auction last month for $3.85 million to a limited partnership that is building similar establishments in Las Vegas and California.
Frank Kane, who identified himself as a principal partner behind the buyer, MS&T LLC, said that "for the time being" the club will continue to operate as it has for the past 17 years
"There's a large area still available to build out," Kane said of the four-story rowhouse whose first floor houses the club. "It could be a restaurant, it could be an office building. That's prime property."
The previous owner of the club, Nicholas A. Addams, operating as Snoco Enterprises Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September, unable to recover after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks reduced the number of business travelers -- and potential customers -- to Washington, he said.
Addams said the May 18 auction of the property, liquor license and nude dancing license, which started at $2.6 million, also drew the interest of local developer Douglas Jemal, who was outbid.
That was evidence enough for Kane that he got a good deal.
"The reality is, this is a building and piece of property on M Street," he said. "We'll certainly try to make it a top-flight, a nice place."
One of the club's main assets is that it is one of about 20 bars in Washington that has a license allowing nude dancing. The city no longer issues such licenses.
Terry Lynch, executive director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, said the club's liquor license will be up for renewal in the fall. "I think it will be very much up to the neighborhood folks, businesses, residents, to decide if it's a usage beneficial to the neighborhood," he said.
Lynch said the 1800 block of M Street costs the city money for services and doesn't produce as much in benefits as it would if it were "revitalized."
"If you look at the block as to the [demand for] police services and the lack of revitalization, it's not optimal for the neighborhood to have that concentration of adult services there," he said.
Kane said he doesn't anticipate problems in getting the license renewed for a two-year period.
"We think this is a pretty straightforward license transfer. A gentleman's club has operated there for over 20 years, so there's no change in the type of establishment," he said. "I don't know that you can make a case this would be an out-of-place operation for the community.
"We're looking to be a good citizen, and we're looking to add to the business community on M Street," he said.