Senses Nightclub Reopens, Raising Zoning Questions

By Patrick Lantrip

Senses, the controversial nightclub located at 2866 Poplar Ave., mysteriously reopened Saturday, May 6, after sitting empty for several years. And it has plans to continue operations, which may be in direct violation of the local zoning laws.

According to Senses’ new website and social media accounts, the club plans to open just one day a week – Saturday at 10 p.m. – and provide a lineup of electronic dance music DJs with a $20 cover.

A representative with Memphis Media Innovations, who has been promoting the venue on Facebook, told The Daily News the new owners gave explicit orders to not communicate with the media, but said the club plans to continue its operations for the foreseeable future.

“Re-modeled Vegas Style venue created just for adult dance entertainment that welcomes only the best DJ Talent in Memphis to spin the Top Dance Vibes and promises to Re-Ignite your passion and keep you on the dance floor all night long,” the venue’s description reads in part.

However, this may be in violation of the city’s zoning laws, according to Josh Whitehead, planning director/administrator for the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning & Development.

“The zoning of this property does not allow for a nightclub; the previous nightclub at this location operated under the previous zoning code, which presumably permitted this use at this location," Whitehead said via email. "As more than 365 days have passed since its closing, it cannot be considered a grandfathered, or nonconforming use.

"The zoning enforcement department of the Office of Construction Code Enforcement is monitoring this situation closely and will issue a citation for the owner to appear in Environmental Court if the nightclub opens as planned.”

Most recently, the club was to be sold at a March 30 foreclosure auction after the owners, C&R Events Enterprise LLC, defaulted on a $1.1 million loan.

C&R bought the property from Mascom Properties for $1.2 million in May 2015. The purchase included the 14,700-square-foot warehouse that housed the nightclub as well as the adjacent 134-space parking lot.

That October, C&R filed an application with the Office of Planning & Development to reopen the club, which has been vacant since the original Senses closed in April 2013 after a nine-year run.

The application to OPD stated the new owners planned to reopen the nightclub under the same name, adding that a special-use permit would be required because the original club had closed.

“There are no planned changes to the site except to restripe the parking lot,” the application read.

The foreclosure was the result of C&R’s unpaid $1.1 million deed of trust taken out through Mascom Properties, according to a foreclosure notice that first ran in the Wednesday, March 8, edition of The Daily News. Francisco Dasilva and Rosalba Castillo signed the loan documents on behalf of C&R.

Though the website states that the club is under new management, C&R is listed as the “Impressum,” a term given to a legally mandated statement of the ownership.