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Hot Bodies Men’s Club gets thumbs up from ZAP

Thursday, August 9, 2012 by Elizabeth Pagano

Austin’s Zoning and Platting Commission recommended rezoning the recently annexed Hot Bodies Men’s Club in Southeast Austin, though it’s uncertain whether the adult-oriented club will gain approval to sell alcohol.


Commission members voted 5-0 to recommend the rezoning, leaving for later the question of whether they will back a permit to allow the adult club to serve alcohol. The rezoning recommendation was approved by all but one absent commissioner, Jason Meeker, and now heads to City Council for final OK.


In December 2011, the city annexed Hot Bodies at 4134 Felter Lane. According to city records, the property has been an adult cabaret since July 2002 under different names.


The zoning request would change the property from RR, which is an interim zoning, to CS-1. Right now, the club doesn’t serve alcohol, but is a bring-your-own-beer and alcohol establishment. The property owner, Eletherios “Lefty” Karamolegkos, proposes to obtain a conditional-use permit for alcohol sales following the zoning change.


Among those opposed to the rezoning was Dean Fischer, general counsel for System & Processes Engineering Corp., which is located across the street. He acknowledged that when the company moved to the location in 2004 Hot Bodies was there, but he explained that they were not selling alcohol at the time.


Fisher cited studies that link alcohol use to increases in crime, and expressed concern about the proximity of the club to the nearby low-income housing at Colorado Crossing.


“Our next-door neighbor is a low-income housing development. What if this was West Lake or Tarrytown or another area?” said Fisher. “It just always seems to be that you’re putting these kinds of establishments next to low-income housing developments, which I just find appalling.”


Because Fisher’s objections primarily focused on alcohol sales, the commission advised him to oppose the conditional-use permit, which the panel will hear at a later date.


“I personally agree with you,” said Vice Chair Patricia Seeger. “I’d like to see Hot Bodies move out of the neighborhood. However, we can’t do that because it was a legitimate business before it was annexed into the city.”


Chair Betty Baker said that, while she agreed with Fisher’s comments, the location of the club was appropriate.


“This is not an unreasonable location,” said Baker. “It’s not directly on a school bus route or it’s not directly at someone’s backdoor or residential development. It complies in strict zoning criteria. It complies.”


Baker also noted that the “provisions for on-site consumption, particularly for adult-oriented businesses, are very strict,” and that few businesses had been able to obtain “lounge” status from the city.


For now, the commission seemed most concerned about the oversized signage at the gentleman’s club.


“I would hate to tell people you turn left after you pass Hot Bodies,” said Baker. “There needs to be something a little more discreet and a little more tasteful.”


Planning and Development Review’s Jerry Rusthoven said that while he did not think that the city could do anything about signs that were in existence prior to annexation, as these were, they had luck in the past with respectful requests to “not state certain things” on public signs.


Rusthoven said that the commission could also address the signs when the case for the conditional-use permit comes before them.

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