Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bound'ry Owners Turned Away Previous Openness to Turn Down Amps in Favor of Their Code Violating "Concept"

When Bound'ry owners took over a spot already notorious to some in Midtown for posing a "nuisance" to the folk who actually lived in the neighborhood, they let neighbors know with no apologies (like those of owners past) that they would guard what they called their "concept": a late-night open air atmosphere where the amps stayed turned up generating loud decibels past the 100 foot code restrictions and into the neighborhood. Moreover, the speakers would be directed outside and elevated to reach farther by means of their placement on an open-air second-story balcony.

According to documents on file at the Disciples Divinity House (across the street from the Bound'ry) lifetime restaurateur Jay Pennington and his partner Jimmy Lewis (who was once convicted for running an illegal gambling enterprise) made it clear to residents two years after the Bound'ry opened that they were not going to turn down their amps due to their "concept."

Mr. Lewis would go on 10 years later to piss off Midtown businesses at a separate location by bequeathing the gift of a strip joint called "Vivid" to the same neighborhood:

The businesses surrounding 19th Avenue and Division, a thriving urban business district, include a karaoke bar, hair salon, law association and upscale eateries. None seem pleased with the new addition to the neighborhood, but nobody is quite as close to the problem as Cassie Aitkens, operator of Hot Yoga Nashville. Vivid has opened on the first floor of the building where Aitkens runs her yoga studio, and no number of downward dog poses has given her peace about this development.

"I'm very upset about it, only because I was led to believe that a much more tasteful establishment would be going in there," she says. Aitkens says that, so far, most of her students remain committed to the yoga studio and continue to take classes. But, "Some of the more conservative population that come from Belle Meade haven't been attending as much," she says.

Unbowed by neighborhood criticism, the strip club/Bound'ry landlord suggested to the Nashville Scene in 2004 that Vivid was more wholesome than art:

Scare up some 8-foot copper thongs and banana slings, make it a lapdance and everybody's happy.

When the strip club Vivid opened directly underneath Hot Yoga this year, yoga-goers and neighborhood regulars were understandably upset about their seedy new neighbor. But Vivid's landlord, Jimmy Lewis, didn't see why they were offended. The real vulgarity, he said, was Musica—the classical sculpture in the Music Row Roundabout. According to Lewis, nude sculptures are "more offending to me than a dance club." He considered the art very sexual and inappropriate, claiming he felt more comfortable driving his grandchildren by a strip club than the statue. (Thanks, Grandpa!) His leasing agent, Jim Boyd, went even further, saying that the Venus de Milo and David shouldn't be shown to children. In conclusion: porn good, art bad. Got it.



UPDATE: Here is more neighborhood reaction to Bound'ry owner Jimmy Lewis's strip club a few years ago (via William Williams at the City Paper):
Advocates of the fast-changing commercial and residential area met Monday afternoon on the Vanderbilt University campus to discuss how they can address the overlay district that permits adult entertainment activity. "It's time to take another look at the boundaries [of the overlay district]," said Betty Nixon, VU assistant vice chancellor for community, neighborhood and government relations. "The area is undergoing growth in a very positive way. I don't see [Vivid] as damaging that growth, but I do see it as inappropriate to the development that is happening." Others share Nixon's views. They say the timing is bad, particularly given major Midtown additions such as Roundabout Plaza, Bristol on Broadway, 807 18th , and Jim Caden's Demonbreun Street strip that contains restaurants, bars and retail. Ashlyn Hines, a partner with Bristol on Broadway developer Bristol Development Inc., said she is disturbed by the thought of having an exotic dance club only one block from the residential building her company will unveil by year's end. "This is the kind of business that sets the neighborhood back," Hines said. Bill Knestrick, president and chief executive officer of Knestrick Contractors Inc., said his company has a contract to purchase area property to develop a residential project. "This will definitely make us reconsider doing that," Knestrick said. "Has anybody ever said anything positive about a strip club going into a neighborhood?" he asked.

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