By Antigone Barton
GULF STREAM — Calm had come to the southern end of Boynton Beach since the raucous strip club across the street had finally closed, and Gulf Stream’s Place Au Soleil residents eagerly awaited the shops and trolley stop that city officials had said would replace the bar.
It was, after all, a year since police had arrested club owner Norman Goddard on charges of drug selling and running “a house of ill fame.”
And it was six months since Boynton Beach commissioners had, to the applause of Place Au Soleil residents, announced they would pay $1.2 million for the club’s licenses, and ensure “a healthy entry” to the city that borders this Gulf Stream neighborhood.
Then one day in late October, on the marquee that the now-closed “Platinum Gold” club had used to advertise its dancers, residents saw this instead:
“MR GS ROC BAR,” the new sign said. ‘COMMING SOON.”
Wondering what he had missed, Ned McDonald, a Place Au Soleil resident who had welcomed the city’s plans to buy the strip club and turn the blighted spot into a “gateway” to Boynton Beach, began to search the Internet.
A short article in the previous day’s paper brought him up to date.
While Boynton Beach had bought the club’s liquor and cabaret licenses, the city had since decided to pass on buying the building, the article said.
This left the way clear for Goddard, who now was home on probation, to negotiate with Mr. G’s Rock Bar of West Palm Beach, according to the article.
McDonald sought more information about the announced new neighbor:
“There are always surprises at Mr. G's Rock Bar & Grill. Would you expect any less from the preferred after-hours hangout for adult entertainers? We think not!” he found on the Web site for the bar’s West Palm Beach location. “Things tend to get really interesting at Mr. G’s in the wee hours. Maybe it’s because Dancers drink free? In the planning stages are events like our Strippers Ball in November and Fetish parties starting in October . . .”
Photos of G-string-clad women on the Web site rounded out the picture.
By 9 a.m. the morning after the sign on Federal Highway appeared, Place Au Soleil Homeowners Association President Joe Spadafora said, “the phones were going berserk.”
At their November meeting, Gulf Stream commissioners took up the questions of the property in Boynton Beach that Mayor Bill Koch called “our little problem.”
“This is a two-prong thing,” Commissioner Muriel Anderson said. The question of who might own the building that has served as a strip club under several previous owners was just one part of the problem. The other question, she added, was this: “Is Boynton Beach going to change their zoning?”
And while Boynton officials have said they want no more “adult entertainment” venues in their city, McDonald said, Mr. G’s is no trolley stop.
“It is in fact a strip club,” McDonald said. “No matter how the owner identifies it, the product right now involves stripping.”
Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor in turn, maintains that a restriction tied to terms under which the city bought Platinum Gold’s liquor and cabaret license ensures a strip club will not occupy that spot again. And in late November, he still had heard nothing of a deal for Mr. G’s to buy the spot.
A call to Mr. G’s for this story was not returned.
In any case, Taylor said, with control over the liquor license, which the city has about six months more to sell, the city has say over what business moves there.
Place Au Soleil residents aren’t so sure. Even if Mr. G’s doesn’t seal the deal for Platinum Gold, a business with a liquor license can still buy the place, they pointed out.
“They spent $1.2 million and they’re back where they were six months ago,” Spadafora said. “We did everything we could do, but it’s not our city.”
1989 — Boynton commissioners vote to reduce buffer between strip clubs and residential areas from 1,500 to 1,000 square feet.
March 2006 — Boynton Beach commissioners decide not to pursue banning alcohol or other restrictions at “adult entertainment venues.”
September 2007 — Platinum Gold owner Norman Goddard arrested with seven others at club after a monthlong investigation uncovered prostitution and drug dealing.
March 2008 — Police return to Platinum Gold when Goddard is hurt in a 2 a.m. fight at the club over payment for lap dances.
April 2008 — Police again are called to the bar after men armed with paintball guns fire on dancers there. May 2008 — Place Au Soleil residents attend Boynton Beach City Commission meeting and applaud when commissioners agree to buy the club’s liquor and cabaret licenses for $1.2 million. Club is closed.
September 2008 — Goddard gets probation after drug-selling and prostitution charges are reduced to operating a public nuisance where controlled substances are illegally kept and sold.
October 28 — Boynton Beach commissioners decide not to buy the building.
October 29 — Place Au Soleil residents see sign announcing “Mr. G’s" coming soon.