Jacksonville, FL (May 10, 2020) — The Baymeadows Bikini Bar that caused such an uproar among the Baymeadows Community back in 2013, has shut down. At some point during the COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency, Paradise Gentleman’s Club closed its doors for good and put the dated building back on the market and up for sale.
“While I am an advocate for small business owners, the closing of this business is a pleasant surprise and definitely a plus for the Baymeadows community”, Council member Becton announced. “This bikini bar was never an asset for this area and certainly was a constant complaint by residents over the years, wondering how it got there in the first place.”
Prior to being on City Council, Councilman Becton led the community as an activist as they engineered one of the largest petitions drive the city had seen against the opening of the Gentleman’s Club. Owner, Ticco Zahoo and his attorney filed papers with the City to turn the old Burger King building into the Paradise Bikini Bar only after a Federal Judge force the city to comply, striking down the city’s definition of dancing which was described as “too broad”.
The owner began their desire to open this establishment only after an initial approved rezoning was requested to become a restaurant serving alcohol. While that request was approved, it was not long before the owner requested an additional rezoning exception in 2013 to add dancing. In seeing what the real intent was to become and the outrage for which the community voiced, that zoning exception was denied, ultimately sending the issue to a Federal court case over the city’s definition of dancing. The resulting law suit was won by the owner and the resulting victory allowed the business to open with the dancing exception, and forcing the city to rewrite its zoning code with an improved definition for dancing.
“The owner of this business, intended from the very beginning to result in a Gentleman’s Club Bikini Bar use”, Council member Becton explained. “It really was a deceptive plan all along that the owner engaged to force the city to allow their business. They originally explained, we just want to be another Hooters type restaurant but certainly as time would tell, otherwise.”
Back in October of 2013, Councilman Becton said in a News4Jax interview that he and a majority of the community all agreed they wanted to keep the Gentleman Club Biking Bar Paradise out. Councilman Becton said “they bring adult bookstores. They bring a community down,” Becton said, per New4Jax’s article. “We are in a revitalization mode here within Baymeadows.”
Becton told reporters “he’s afraid Zahoo’s business will hurt current efforts to uplift Baymeadows with planned new homes and townhomes in the area. In another interview with Folio, “Becton said the decision could cascade into other adult entertainment venues wanting to open in the area as well. Once you allow this use, it is difficult to not allow the second guy to come in. That first door into our neighborhood is very important.” Councilman Becton still stands by this today as one of the most experienced Land Use and Zoning Council Member’s having served twice as LUZ Chair and once as Vice Chair over his many years, has seen hundreds of similar rezoning and land use legislations, where the slippery slope concept prevailed.
“It is a very common justification of rezoning requests that projects and uses be approved due to previous approvals”, Councilmember Becton noted. “Once you allow one person the exception, then that exception becomes grounds for others to follow.”
The City had no choice but to allow the applicant to open in 2014, as it was the decision by the Federal Judge’s order, that this business was granted the right to open as a restaurant serving alcohol, to also allow dancing.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many business in our community, Councilman Becton in his efforts to discourage this business over the years was shocked to find out that it secretly shut down, just six years into its existence. Without a peep of fanfare, the building now sits abandoned with a large white real estate sign that reads ‘available’ nailed to the boarded entrance doors, set to be an eyesore until sold and redeveloped.
“Baymeadows in that area has recently seen major improvements as a new Race Trac convenience store has opened, the redevelopment of Prominence Business Park has emerged and the new JSO Substation for Zone 3 is across the street”, Council Member Becton stated. “It is certainly my hope that quickly, perhaps a business owner or developer can see this location for sale and realize it into something beneficial for the community.”