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VOL. 124 | NO. 61 | Monday, March 30, 2009

Gold Club Owner Files Suit to Lift Stop-Work Order

By Andy Meek

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A topless club businessman who wants to expand the East Memphis adult club he owns has gone to court to get a stop-work order lifted.

Adult club owner Steve Cooper has filed a lawsuit in response to Memphis and Shelby County code officials stopping work earlier this month at 777 N. White Station Road, where Cooper owns and operates The Gold Club. Cooper filed his lawsuit Thursday in Shelby County Circuit Court, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.

Cooper several months ago filed two building permits for work he’d proposed at the site that involves expanding his club’s space into the adjacent space that formerly housed the Fantasy Warehouse adult bookstore.

The Gold Club has operated at the White Station address for about 20 years, and the bookstore’s lease was terminated in October.

Earlier last week, a Shelby County official told The Daily News city-county officials had been in touch with representatives of The Gold Club since the issuance of the stop-work order but refused to elaborate on where the dispute stood.

Cooper, for his part, said he believes officials shut down work at the club without a good reason and that he needs to make repairs to the former bookstore space. Cooper could not be reached for comment by press time.

“777 Memphis Inc., as owner of the property, upon inspection of the premises at 793 (N. White Station), became aware of numerous construction defects, deteriorating walls, ceiling and roof components and extreme rusting of ceiling joists and support beams, as well as deteriorating interior walls,” the suit reads. “Petitioners contacted (the city-county Office of Construction Code Enforcement) in October of 2008 to determine whether or not it would be feasible to knock out the separating interior non-load-bearing wall between The Gold Club and 793 to make one adult use as The Gold Club.”

After talking with code officials about what he wanted to do, Cooper was advised to apply for two building permits, according to the lawsuit. Plans were submitted that included new steel support beams for the building and other renovation work.

Cooper, however, also wants to raise the roof of the building in which the club operates to accommodate new support beams he’s bought that are apparently larger than ones used when the building was built in the 1950s.

“Due to the confusion over what the permits actually allowed, the need for an amendment as to costs, and controversy apparently generated by public comments, code issued stop-work orders on or about March 6, 2009, requiring the petitioner to provide confirmation information on evaluations for the two permits and to provide revised plans which reflect no structural alterations to the building containing a non-conforming use,” the suit reads.

The stop-work order issued this month came about partly because The Gold Club operates at the site as what’s called a nonconforming business. That means its current operation as an adult business is not allowed at the site, but the business can operate there because it predates the existing zoning that governs the site.

Structural alteration of a nonconforming entity like The Gold Club is prohibited under the Shelby County Charter. Since that’s basically what Cooper was proposing, county officials said they wanted to see new plans from Cooper that meet zoning guidelines before work can continue.

PROPERTY SALES 92 242 2,507
MORTGAGES 108 336 2,943
BUILDING PERMITS 202 643 6,711
BANKRUPTCIES 43 176 1,963