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Neighbors Fight Liquor License for Flirty Girl Fitness, a Stripper Pole Gym

By Paul Biasco | January 15, 2013 7:16am

CITY HALL — The owners of Flirty Girl Fitness, a stripper pole-based fitness center in Lincoln Park, say a neighborhood push against their efforts to obtain liquor and amusement licenses is misguided.

Flirty Girl Fitness, 2215 N. Halsted St., cleared a first hurdle Monday when the City Council's zoning committee approved a rezoning ordinance that would allow for those licenses.

While the fitness center makes money offering classes such as Advanced Pole Dance, Lap Dance, XXX Power Strip and Pole Tease, the business relies heavily on bachelorette and other private parties.

Those parties can't be held without the amusement and liquor licenses.

Some neighbors worry about raucous parties.

But the majority of the parties at Flirty Girl's West Loop location at 1325 W. Randolph "are not raging parties into the wee hours of the morning," said Juli Gilliam, a co-owner of the Lincoln Park location and manager.

"It's mostly young professional women who are in there to have a ladies' night out," Gilliam said. "It's more about sipping flirtinis by the spa. I don't think anyone comes to Flirty Girl to get drunk. You can go out and get drunk anywhere."

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) applied for the ordinance to change the land's zoning along with 5 other neighboring parcels on Halsted Street, but did not say whether she was in support of Flirty Girl obtaining additional licensing.

"It's definitely a fitness club, and it's a women's fitness club," Smith said. "We have had some concerns [from neighbors] about what the nature of their business is and some misunderstandings about that."

The Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce has been a strong supporter of the Flirty Girl's goal of achieving an incidental liquor license, citing the Lincoln Center Association's support of proposals and the "significant investment" of renovating the space.

Sixty-four people who live within 250 feet of Flirty Girl signed a letter urging the city's commissioner for the Department of Business and Consumer Affairs to block the licensing effort, according to a Sun-Times report.

The letter states that Flirty Girl is located within 200 feet of a school or other educational facility, namely St. Vincent de Paul Center, and shouldn't be allowed to have a license. It also states that the business is "out of character" with the residential neighborhood, according to the report.

Allan Mellis, a neighborhood activist, testified at the zoning committee hearing against the rezoning application by quoting from Flirty Girl's website, which incited laughter from aldermen in the council chamber.

"Equipped with a Coyote Ugly Dance Bar, Dance Poles and Bistro Dance Chairs we open our venue several times a year for wild member appreciation parties and networking events for women," Mellis read to the chamber from the Flirty Girl Website. "Our Lincoln Park location is oh so close to having their fully licensed bar up and running!"

Despite Mellis' concern the committee approved the rezoning ordinance.

During Monday's zoning committee hearing, Smith noted that the West Loop Flirty Girl location is located next to the Montessori Academy of Chicago, and that proximity has not been a problem.

"The community came to us and asked us to take a look at this," said Patricia Scudiero, the city's zoning administrator. "The zoning is completely improper and we suggested the zoning change."

The Flirty Girl location is bordered by a mostly residential drag to the north, but the row of businesses across the street are retail shops and a bar is located about 50 yards to the south on the corner of Webster Avenue and Halsted Street.