Hunts Point’s lone remaining gentlemen’s club may have hosted its last lap dance. At least, that’s what neighborhood leaders are hoping.
The owners of Club W met a wall of resistance from Community Board 2’s Liquor and Franchising Committee in December, when they came to request a letter of support for a renewal of their expired liquor license to the State Liquor Authority.
Board 2’s chair Robert Crespo calls Club W “an eyesore to the community,” and much worse.
The club formerly known as Mister Wedge ran afoul of the law last summer when two violent crimes were reported on the premises, and another that was committed a short distance away was also found to be club-related.
The club is located at 673 Hunts Point Avenue, just a block away from two schools, PS 48 and MS 424.
Club W is the peninsula’s last jiggle joint still jiggling, in a neighborhood once notorious for them. About a half dozen strip clubs were shut down earlier in the decade as residents teamed with Board 2 and the 41st Precinct to tot up the clubs’ violations and criminal incidents, then pressure the State Liquor Authority not to renew their liquor licenses.
Residents and community leaders have long fought Hunts Point’s reputation as a haven for prostitution, which was worsened by a 2002 HBO documentary that portrayed the neighborhood as little more than an open-air brothel.
The former Mr. Wedge, however, took pains during that period to distinguish itself from other local gentlemen’s clubs, pointing out that, unlike those topless bars, Wedge’s women are required to wear tops. In addition, while gunplay was commonplace at the other venues over the years, causing the 41st Precinct to routinely deploy officers to their premises to keep the peace, the Hunts Point Avenue club remained relatively quiet.
But during a week-and-a-half period last August, police were called to Club W to respond to two incidents that recalled the shoot-’em-up early 2010s. Then a third one occurred in October.
In one of the August incidents, a Club Wedge customer was accused of beating, raping and robbing a dancer he left the club with. After arresting the suspect near the Bruckner Expressway, police found he had a criminal history with prostitutes.
In a second incident, police found another customer, badly beaten, walking around Hunts Point after leaving the club. But when officers went back to investigate the incident, club security was uncooperative, according to NYPD.
In the October incident, officers who had been deployed to patrol the perimeter outside the club because of the prior incidents, “drove into live fire” to break up a fight in the parking lot.
According to the 4-1’s commanding officer Captain Jeremy Scheublin, NYPD maintains contact with gentlemen’s clubs to prevent incidents that threaten public safety, but Club W has not been a good neighbor.
“We try to meet with them to lay out the boundaries,” said Scheublin. “If there’s no violence, we don’t need to do enforcement. However, when it does become the case that there are violent incidents, we do.”
Crespo recalls the years when the precinct was stretched thin by the need to regularly respond to incidents at local strip clubs.
“They use all our resources,” complained Crespo, adding that Board 2 will urge the Liquor Authority to turn down Club W’s owners’ request for a license renewal.
“Their attorney told me he wants to meet me,” said Crespo. “I told them there’s nothing to meet about.”
Records indicate that Club W’s last liquor license expired on Oct. 31. According to state regulations, owners have nine months from the time of their license’s expiration to renew.
Calls to Club W for comment were not answered.
The story was updated on Jan. 8.