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Hunts Point Strip Club With a Violent History Could Lose License

By Patrick Wall | October 11, 2012 9:28am

HUNTS POINT — A local strip club with a history of violence could lose its liquor license if found guilty of charges brought by the State Liquor Authority, which came amid crackdowns by the police and outcries from local leaders.

Club Eleven, at 1152 Randall Ave, and its immediate surroundings have been the site of a series of shootings, stabbings, fights and a sexual assault since it opened in 2009, according to police and elected officials. In July, five men were slashed and two shot in a feud that spilled from the club onto the street.

“It’s out of control and we’re fed up,” said Rafael Salamanca, district manager of Community Board 2, who has led campaigns against several rowdy clubs in the area. “We want them gone and we’ll do whatever is possible within the means of the law to get them out of Hunts Point.”

The Liquor Authority has charged the club with more than 20 infractions since it opened, including seven charges for on-site assaults or brawls and three for women soliciting men in the club for “immoral purposes.”

The agency also alleged that management failed to properly supervise the club and that the ongoing disturbances there threatened locals’ safety and made the site “a focal point for police attention,” according to the charges.

The owner, Patrick Aryee, was fined a total of $2,500 this year for charges relating to missing signage and building code violations. A hearing on the other charges is scheduled for Oct. 25.

Several calls and an email to Club Eleven were not answered. A man answered one call but hung up after he was asked about the charges.

A former manager reached by phone Wednesday said the club maintained plenty of licensed security guards, including a former police detective, who were present “at all times.”

“We had security and everything was fine,” he said, before ending the call.

Police have issued summonses at Club Eleven for the assaults, as well as for unlicensed security guards and disorderly conduct, according to Capt. Philip Rivera of the 41st Precinct.

Rumbles often erupt in the club, then spill outside after guards pepper spray the fighters, Rivera said.

“The come out with their eyes tearing. And as soon as they get over the effects of the mace, they continue to fight,” he said.

Club Eleven sits next to a wholesale florist and across the street from a portable toilet rental company in the industrial side of Hunts Point, which is zoned to allow topless bars.

The neighborhood is home to three strip clubs and one bikini bar, according to the community board.

The majority of the clubs' patrons come from outside Hunts Point, according to Aida Haddock-Sanchez, a 41st Precinct community affairs officer. Many are lured by the neighborhood’s longstanding reputation as a hotbed of prostitution, she added.

“It’s been known for ages that this is an area where the ladies of the night walk,” she said.

That is a perception that local leaders have tried hard to shake. They point to the area’s massive food distribution hub, its expanding park and trail system and its well-regarded nonprofit network — but often to little effect.

“For many years, the Hunts Point community has sought to correct the false image as an area of lawlessness and deviant activity,” state Sen. Jeffrey Klein wrote in letter to the Liquor Authority last month, which was co-signed by two Bronx representatives in the State Assembly.

The letter urged the agency to revoke Club Eleven’s liquor license, saying residents deserve “safe neighborhoods rid of this type of lawless and violent activity.”

Community Board 2 has emerged as a fiery critic of the local strip clubs, which it says breed violence, promote prostitution, sap police resources and deter business investment.

Early this year, the board helped organize a rally outside of Club Heat, where a mother of three was fatally shot in December. Later, its lobbying led the Liquor Authority to deny a license to a proposed strip joint called King of Clubs.

Salamanca, the district manager, said that even well-managed strip clubs struggle to curb the criminal activity they often attract.

“They make all these problems,” he said. “But they really can’t control much.”