OLIVER: The last thing this city needs

Let’s fast forward a year from now and you’re at the Marquette game (if you didn’t graduate already). After seeing the Golden Eagles win one with a last-second three-pointer, you rush out of the BMO Harris Bradley Center in a fit of excitement. Right across the street there is Buck Bradley’s, Upper 90, The Turner Ballroom and the newly-opened gentleman’s club,  Silk Exotic.

That’s right. Silk Exotic wants to open a strip club right across the street, something the Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Admirals and even our Golden Eagles oppose, saying it would alter the perception of downtown.

The strip club was already denied a license to open at 730 N. Old World Third St. when the city’s Licenses Committee voted unanimously to deny it. This denial was little more than telling Silk to find another spot  in the city and then the committee would reconsider. Silk then applied for another license to operate at 1118 N. 4th St.

It was almost like saying, “You can’t touch our small businesses, but feel free to go after our sports teams,” as the new location is across the street from the Bradley Center.

The proposed strip club is going to destroy the value of the properties behind and around the sporting arena. Let’s fast forward again to sometime down the road when you’re looking for your first house. You have three options: you could either buy into a cramped neighborhood, move out to the suburbs and sacrifice the proximity of everything in the city, or you could buy a nice house next to an open lot downtown.

I’d get the nice house next to an empty lot in a second; you’re close to everything, and what’s the worst thing that can happen? Well, the worst thing that can happen is a strip club moves into that lot drastically bringing down your property value and creating a potentially undesirable area.

According to an article in Pacific Standard, 95 percent of businesses surrounded by adult entertainment locations suffer from lower than normal property values. Unfortunately, that could soon be the case for the businesses surrounding the club’s proposed site.

Besides decreasing property values, the strip club is also going to attract a whole cohort of externalities.  The area surrounding it is already a parking nightmare. It also opens up the surrounding areas to new threats of violence and crime. 

James E. Causey, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is in favor of the new development, saying that it will revitalize the downtown area that is routinely shut down by 7 p.m. He also stated that if the strip club doesn’t work, it could just close a year later.

I can’t agree with Mr. Causey. Frankly, having the property stay vacant and routinely maintained would cause less economic damage than having a negative asset like the strip club opening, even considering the tax benefits. Businesses are going to want to distance themselves from the area and if a business leaves, whatever tax benefit the city gets from licenses and property taxes will be negligible.

The city needs to deny the newly proposed license to Silk Exotic. The negative externalities as well as the economic impact would do nothing but destroy the properties around it. The city already has enough problems; it doesn’t need one more thing working against it.

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