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After months of legal disputes and a court-ordered eviction in February, Scores Gentlemen’s Club & Steakhouse is battling to stay in business on St. John Street in New Haven.
Fuun House Productions — the owners of the strip club — appealed the size of a court-set bond on Monday. Fuun House would have to post the bond — set at $2.45 million — within five days of the March 25 ruling to appeal the Feb. 15 eviction ruling. Fuun House is not required to produce the $2.45 million bond until after the bond appeal is resolved.
In the March 25 ruling, New Haven Superior Court Judge John Cordani based the size of the bond on the potential “foregoing damages” that would be incurred by Oregon-based Reed Realty, the realtors working with building owners Taom Heritage New Haven, LCC to renovate the property. This figure includes the $1.25 million that Reed Realty “would likely default on” if the project were to fall through. Reed Realty Director of Historic Redevelopment and Government Affairs Josh Blevins told the New Haven Independent that further appeals and an elongated legal battle would decrease the chance that the redevelopment and affordable housing project would happen by “50 percent.”
Taom Heritage New Haven is the holding company that owns the clock factory property where the strip club was located. Taom Heritage is partly owned by Reed Realty, which specializes in historical restorations and affordable housing. Reed Realty intends to transform the 130,000-square-foot factory into 130 apartments and designate certain units to house local artists.
Blevins declined to comment on pending litigation but emphasized Reed Realty’s desire to bring affording housing options to New Haven. He said that Reed Realty “looks forward to a successful outcome” regarding the legal dispute and seeks to bring more affordable housing options to New Haven.
“There are over 8,800 people on the waitlist for affordable housing,” Blevins said. “So adding 130 new, nice, warm homes for New Haven residents and their families is certainly something that we would love to see happen sooner rather than later.”
Blevins added that although there is much left to be done, “major environmental remediation efforts” have already begun on site.
In Fuun House Productions’ appeal on Feb. 15 court ruling which served them an eviction notice, the company’s attorney, Anthony DiCrosta, wrote to the court arguing that the limited amount of time — the strip club’s owners were given five days to produce the $2.45 million — and the “excess amount of the bond” were unreasonable. DiCrosts could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
“Mandating that a surety bond of such staggering proportion be posted within an arbitrarily chosen five-day period of time insures defendant’s noncompliance with its orders,” Dicrosta wrote to the court.
The legal dispute between the strip club’s owners and Taom Heritage began last year. In a October 2018 legal complaint, Taom Heritage’s lawyer, Jay Lawlor, wrote that Fuun House’s lease of the space expired on March 31, 2017. At that point, the club’s lease became a month-to-month endeavor. Lawlor wrote that as of July 2018 the lease had expired, due to lapse of time. He argued that this gave Taom Heritage the right to evict Forchetti and Fuun House Productions.
According to Connecticut state law, a lapse of time on a lease is cause enough to evict a tenant, and landlords are not required to explicitly disclose why they have evicted such tenants. The only exception to this law is reserved for blind, disabled or aged tenants.
The developers recently purchased the former factory property for $2.5 million — but New Haven tax breaks brought the price down to $1.7 million. In a unanimous vote by the Development Commision on Oct. 9, the “Clock Shop Lofts” developers were loaned $800,000 in city funds to help pay for part of the site’s estimated $6.6 million in environmental remediation costs.
The former New Haven Clock Company factory building, developed between 1866 and 1937, was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 2017.
Nick Tabio | firstname.lastname@example.org