CONCOURSE — East 161st Street is home to Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Hall of Justice, the offices of the borough president and the district attorney and, now, a giant advertisement for a Manhattan strip club.
The large billboard atop the Burger King at East 161st Street and Walton Avenue was plastered on Thursday with an ad for Scores, “The World Famous Legendary Gentlemen’s Club” on West 28th Street, prompting complaints from residents and a plea from the community board.
“While we respect your right to contract and post advertisements, we feel this particular ad is simply not appropriate for the area and not the image that we have fought hard to change,” Community Board 4 District Manager Jose Rodriguez wrote to the billboard owner, OTR Media Group.
The billboard faces Joyce Kilmer Park and the Bronx County building, where the borough president and Bronx Supreme Court are based.
Rodriguez said he received several outraged calls about the ad — which features two women’s faces and the Scores logo — soon after it went up. His letter asked the billboard owner to remove the ad.
OTR and Scores did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Rodriguez’s letter spotlighted the “Capital District’s” many historic landmarks, government buildings, shopping centers and parks, explaining that, “[W]e have experienced a commercial, residential and economic revival.”
The ad for a topless bar, while not “overtly suggestive,” still “contradicts” the hard-won appearance of a neighborhood on the rise, Rodriguez wrote.
“We’re not taking a position of fire and brimstone and morality,” Rodriguez said in an interview, noting that Scores is a legitimate business.
But Rodriguez does not want the district’s thousands of annual visitors — both to the stadium and the courthouses — to see the ad and think, “Oh, this going to be a red-light district now,” he added. “I don’t want that perception.”
Cary Goodman, head of the 161st Street Business Improvement District, said he appreciated the board’s concerns with the ad but, from an economic angle, he didn’t think it would hurt local business.
It is "pointed towards young men with discretionary income who go to baseball games or sports bars,” in the neighborhood, Goodman said.
Monica Harris, who lives on the Grand Concourse, said the billboard owner should respect the will of residents who must see it daily.
“If people here don’t want it, then it should be removed,” she said, suggesting that Scores might do better to place smaller ads inside local bars.
But Madeline Ramirez, who passed by the ad Monday with her 4-year-old son, said it didn’t bother her.
“The smaller kids can’t read it anyways,” she said. “And the older ones see worse things on TV or their phones."