The city of Oakland Park has emerged victorious from its 30-year battle against strip clubs, forcing them out and potentially replacing them with development that’s more family friendly: a Caribbean restaurant and a rental community.
The small city’s legal clash with two clubs — Solid Gold and Pure Platinum — on Federal Highway just north of Oakland Park Boulevard came to a quiet close this year.
The city won decisively in federal appeals court in March, and the now-consolidated clubs shut down and moved to Pompano Beach in mid-June. And a week ago, a developer completed the purchase of the old Pure Platinum property.
The city of 40,000 is trying to change its image, the mayor said, and is pleased the Solid Gold/Pure Platinum chapter has closed.
“I’m happy to say we were successful,” said DJ Doody, the city attorney, who worked on the case since its beginning in the late 1980s. “It’s over.”
Oakland Park Mayor John Adornato said the city wants to transform perceptions of a city from one with “a bunch of warehouses on our main corridors” to “an exciting city people can be proud to call home.”
At the empty Pure Platinum building at 3411 N. Federal Highway, local developer Amos Chess and his business partner Don Deitchman plan a new community — a mid-rise apartment over commercial space.
In the old Solid Gold location nearby, at 3339-3347 N. Federal Highway, a Bahama Breeze Caribbean chain restaurant is planned, according to city development applications.
Chess, who owns the iconic, circular, mosaic-wrapped KenAnn building on the northwest corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and Federal Highway, two blocks south of the Pure Platinum site, said his plans to transform that busy stretch could make a positive difference to residents for several miles around.
“I decided I can make a mark in a small city,” said Chess, who also owns two additional Federal Highway properties between the KenAnn and Pure Platinum. “And I can shape it somehow.”
Chess’s purchase of Pure Platinum was conditioned on the prior owner dropping all lawsuits against the city.
The city has spent nearly half of its 88 years of existence clashing with sexually oriented businesses on one of its main thoroughfares.
In 1977, the city ordered that adult entertainment clubs couldn’t be near churches or schools. At the time, the predecessor to Pure Platinum, Art Stock’s Playpen, was too close to a school but was grandfathered in and allowed to remain.
When it closed for renovations and reopened as Pure Platinum in 1987, the fight was on.
“From Day One, they needed a lawsuit to get open and to operate,’’ attorney Luke Lirot, who represented both clubs, said. “It started off on a litigious note.”
The city tried to shut down Pure Platinum, but the club won in court. A judge put a stop to Oakland Park’s enforcement.
Seventeen years passed, and in 2004, the city took a new approach.
The courts have ruled that a city must allow nude dancing. But the city took another approach, banning the sale of alcohol at such clubs and ordering no physical between customers and employees. Pure Platinum was given 180 days to change its ways.
The club sued, and Solid Gold, which was in the process of opening, sued, too.
The city settled, giving both clubs 11 years of freedom from the new rules.
By November 2015, the agreement said, Solid Gold was to close, and Pure Platinum could remain, but only if it followed the new rules banning touching and alcohol.
2015 came, but that wasn’t the end of it. Both clubs sued.
For about two years, the clubs “operated with some degree of civil disobedience,” Lirot said. Solid Gold moved its operation to the Pure Platinum club. The city went after the clubs with code violations, racking up $30,000 in fines between them.
The saga ended earlier this year.
The U.S. 11th District Court of Appeals ruled that Oakland Park could restrict activities at a strip club because it had shown that the rules advanced a “substantial government interest.”
The city said the law would prevent the negative side effects of businesses that mix nudity with alcohol consumption. Some of those side effects, according to Oakland Park: crime, prostitution, spread of disease, drug use, degraded property values, sexual assault and exploitation, urban blight and pornographic litter.
Lirot said the city couldn’t show a direct relationship between the clubs and crime or other negative spin-off.
“They were very successful; they generated a significant number of jobs; they generated a significant amount of tax revenue,” he said.
Lirot said he considers the fight a vestige from more prudish days, when people thought “adult clubs were going to advance the decline of western civilization.”
Lirot sees a more progressive society now, one where “people have decided to live and let live.”
The appeals court decision was not appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Club operator Michael J. Peters moved the cabaret to Pompano Beach, opening in mid-June as Solid Gold.
Unlike Oakland Park, the city of Pompano Beach hasn’t imposed restrictions against selling alcohol and has a number of strip clubs in its borders.
Pompano Beach Mayor Lamar Fisher said the city isn’t recruiting clubs but accepts them in industrial zones.
“The laws are in place. You must allow them,” Fisher said. “It’s just where do you put them? And we put them in our industrial areas.”
Code lien cases are all that remain between Oakland Park and the adult dance clubs. City officials said those are likely to be resolved soon.
Brittany Wallman can be reached at or. Find her on Twitter .