The owner of a downtown strip club and bar must put exterior windows on his remodeled building and then paint them over, the city has told him.
Donald Arena was stunned when he learned he would have to do more work on his building exterior to meet downtown Lincoln design standards.
Arena owns The Foxy, which he is expanding into the other side of the building at 18th and O streets on the city’s main east-west drag. He had received a new liquor license and a building permit this summer, and inspectors visited the business several times, he said.
No one told him he wasn’t following all the city rules, Arena said.
In October, he got a city notice to stop the work because he needed a special permit to expand the sexually oriented live entertainment establishment into the other half of the building.
To get the special permit, Arena said he was told, he had to meet the downtown design standards as he did the remodeling.
The standards included windows on the front of the building and installing tile to replace the new stucco that had been applied. But he also was required to paint over the windows so no one outside could look inside at the dancers.
Arena went before the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission this week to plead his case and seek an exception to the window rule.
He proposed a compromise: He’d make the building front look like it had windows and sign an agreement that would require him to add real windows — without paint — if he ever sold the building.
Planning Director Marvin Krout told the commission members, however, that the commission couldn’t waive downtown design standards.
Arena said he would have met city standards originally if he had known about them. Now it will cost him an extra $12,000 or so, he said. Krout said a property owner and architect are responsible for knowing and understanding city design standards.
Commissioners offered Arena some sympathy as they approved the special permit, but they retained his requirement to follow the design standards.