House Nightclub won a reprieve last week from the city of Miami, and it is going to be allowed to remain in its original location. This is after the club has been through a lot, including neighborhood opposition, landlord disputes, a leaking roof, anonymous complaints, and competition with nearby clubs. There was also an unreliable survey and a nearby elementary school, which almost ended House for good.
According to the majority nightclub owner, Mark Lowe, former owner of The Living Room in Fort Lauderdale, he and his partners made a $4 million dollar investment redeveloping a warehouse that they lease, which is 11,000 square feet, and is located at 1915 Northwest Miami Court. It is just a few blocks from the Wynwood Arts District. It is located in Overton, and part of the Omni Community Redevelopment district. The investors have used their investment money to transform the warehouse into one of the most popular multi-room nightclubs in the area.
On January 30th, Miami officials notified Glass House Productions, which is Mark Lowe’s company, that they were revoking their occupancy certificate. The reason that the city gave was that the club was located 874 feet distant from the Phyllis Wheatley Elementary School. According to local codes, in order for an establishment to serve liquor legally, the building must be located at a minimum of 1,000 feet distant from the institute.
On July 1st, after Lowe and his attorney, Alan Krischer, went before Miami’s Appeals, Zoning, and Planning Board, and the revocation was unanimously overturned. Lowe along with his lawyer’s argument was that they never would have invested millions of dollars into House Nightclub hadn’t they known it was legal for a club to operate there. Lowe stated to the board that he put his soul into the space, and that he put everything that he had into the building.
Unfortunately for club owners, House is not alone in the zoning issues. There are many codes in Miami, which regulate how far a business needs to be from resident homes, churches, schools, and even from one another. Irene Hegedus, the Zoning Administrator for the past 2.5 years stated that she located an amount of surveys which gave wrong measurements for various commercial operations, which ranges from nursing homes to bars. As a result of this discovery, the Planning and Zoning Department is examining many certificate of use permits for properties all over Miami. According to Hegedus, the department is auditing all of their files. She also stated that where House was concerned, Miami was alerted by the Dade County School Board.
According to Krischer, Glass House Productions is considering filing a lawsuit against the surveyor who claimed that the future location of House was at least 1,000 feet away from the elementary school. He also stated that the surveyor was quite clear on how he came up with the measurements in the plans that he presented to Glass House Productions, and no city officials objected to it until now. Krischer also stated that under the legal doctrine, equitable estoppel, the city cannot legally suddenly revoke a business’ permission to run if it was already granted. He also stated that the night club is closed while school is in session, and that the school’s closest area to the club is separated from House Nightclubs by an 8 foot chain link fence.
He stated that the neighborhood has been there since 1896 and that House had only been there a year. He also told the board that just because information was falsified, that the community should not suffer.
Lowe stated that he and his investors began leasing the warehouse in 2011, and that the club opened in May 2014. He told the board that residents who lived 1 ½ miles away from the club complained about it being evil, sinful, dark, gay, and immoral. He stated that the Miami Entertainment District Association (MEDA) tried to close down the club because it was located outside of the 24 hour club district, located in Park West. Coincidentally, these complaints were made at the same time that anonymous complaints were made against the club. Meanwhile, Glass House Solutions is suing their landlord, A.A. Holdings, LLC for over $55,000 over a leaky roof. The landlord is counter suing Glass House Productions for $248,150 in back rent and trying to evict the club.
According to records, the landlord tenant dispute is still pending in the 11th Judicial Circuit, while The Appeals, Zoning, and Planning board is siding with Glass House Productions. According to board member, Daniel Milian, to a certain extent, House relied on the what the city permitted them to do.