Posts Tagged ‘James Charles’

From the October 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

Before JP’s Night Club reopens in its former space at 2412 Wisconsin Ave., the strip club—closed since a January 2008 fire—must face a new challenge to its liquor license, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has ruled. Though the club recently won a license renewal over neighbors’ protests, neighbors will get a second opportunity to protest the license when the building’s interior is completed and the bar is set to open, according to a September 14 ABC Board ruling. James Charles, a representative for the club’s owner, has said that the prospect of a second protest period might scare off an investor planning to pay for interior renovations to the reconstructed building. Charles did not respond to a request for comment.

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From the September 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) won a significant battle on August 17, when the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board renewed its liquor license, over neighbors’ protests. Foes of the strip club—closed since a January 2008 fire—are now pondering their next move in trying to block the bar’s reopening.

The bar’s opponents may soon gain an advantage in the fight. Although no official word had come by our press time, we hear the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board will likely decide that JP’s must face a separate renewal process—and probably a separate round of neighbor protests—when the interior of its new building is complete. James Charles, a representative of the club’s owner, has said that the prospect of more protests could scare off an investor who plans to pay an estimated $600,000 for interior construction.

The ABC Board did make some concessions to concerns raised by the protestants—the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and a group of 16 neighbors. In renewing the club’s license for three years, the board ruled that live entertainment there can’t start until 5 p.m. (Before the fire, nude dancing at JP’s started as early as 11 a.m., which is when the neighborhood’s other strip club, Good Guys, opens.) The board also ruled that JP’s would need to provide “VIP” or valet parking, as well as creating a smoking area in the rear of its building to reduce loitering on the sidewalk.

Representatives of protesting parties say they are still discussing whether to appeal the ruling. JP’s representative Charles did not respond to a request for comment.

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From the June 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

The potential new owner of JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.) has been revealed. At a May 11 hearing about the dormant strip club’s liquor license, Brian Petruska was introduced as the would-be buyer of the club. Attorney James Charles, who represents the club’s current owner, says that in the spring of 2010, Petruska signed a contract to buy all of JP’s corporate stock. That contract was contingent upon Petruska’s signing a lease with the owners of the vacant building, which replaced a building gutted by a 2008 fire.

Last fall, Charles says, Petruska walked away from the deal, but later returned to the bargaining table with new conditions, including that the club prevail against two parties now protesting the renewal of its liquor license: the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and a group of neighbors represented by attorney Milton Grossman.

A protest hearing on the license renewal was scheduled for May 25, after our press date. (See the Georgetown Current’s report on the hearing here.) The protesting parties were set to argue that the strip club is no longer appropriate for increasingly kid-centric Glover Park. Charles says the charge is without merit. “The business has been there for 22 years,” he says. “The neighborhood hasn’t changed as far as I can see. There are no new schools, libraries, or churches.”

But even if the JP’s license survives that challenge, there may be another in store. The license is currently in an escrow-like state called “safekeeping,” and the protesting parties argue that a second protest hearing should be held when the license is removed from safekeeping—that is, when the club’s interior is fully finished and the club is ready to open. According to Charles, Petruska won’t invest in the building’s interior if there’s another protest looming, which means the wrangling could end with a stalemate that would keep JP’s closed.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is expected to rule within three months on the current protests, and within two months on whether a second protest period will be needed. Our efforts to reach Petruska for comment were not successful.

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From the May 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

More than three years after a fire shuttered JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.), the owners of the property have signed a lease that would bring strippers back to the building, according to James Charles, attorney for JP’s owner Michael Papanicolas.

The new lease, also signed by Papanicolas for the JP’s corporation, is contingent upon the club’s liquor license surviving a current challenge to its September 2010 renewal, Charles says. Two parties—the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and a group of neighbors represented by attorney Milton Grossman—have filed protests to the renewal. They argue that the club, founded in 1985, is no longer appropriate for an increasingly kid-friendly community. They also question Papanicolas’s fitness to operate the club, based on statements he made at an ANC meeting that seemed to contradict statements his attorney, Charles, had made to the Glover Park Gazette. (At issue is whether the club was, or is, for sale.) An Alcoholic Beverage Control Board hearing on the protests is slated for May 11.

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From the February 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

The strip-club standoff has ended. When last we reported on 2412 Wisconsin Ave—the former and potential future home of JP’s Night Club—the vacant building was at the center of a stalemate. The club has been shuttered since a 2008 fire, and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission sought to prevent it from reopening by challenging its recent liquor license renewal. According to the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, though, the license renewal could not formally be challenged until the club reopened its doors. And according to an attorney for the club’s owner, that wouldn’t happen until its would-be buyer secured a lease on the rebuilt property. But no lease had been signed after months of waiting: the buyer seemed reluctant to commit to the deal in the face of a certain challenge to the club’s license.

Now, however, after additional legal direction, ABRA has decided to allow the ANC’s protest to go forward before the club reopens, a spokesman says. A group of nine neighbors represented by attorney Milton Grossman has filed a separate protest, and the objections of both groups—along with those of anyone else who files a protest by the February 14 deadline—will be aired at a hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on February 28.

Both the ANC and the Grossman group question the club’s appropriateness for its location, given its proximity to the Guy Mason playground and ball field, as well as other areas where families with young children congregate. They also raise questions about the identity and plans of the would-be buyer, whom the owner’s attorney, James Charles, has never publicly named.

Charles, who has been representing such clubs for 30 years, says any protest against the license will fail ABRA’s stringent tests for denial. “It’s a waste of time and money for everyone,” he says. “There aren’t any legitimate grounds for a protest.”

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From the January 2011 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

In a blistering resolution sent to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board last month, the Advisory Neighborhood Commission strongly opposed the license renewal of JP’s Night Club (2412 Wisconsin Ave.), a strip club dormant since a January 2008 fire. Citing seeming discrepancies between statements club owner Michael Papanicolas made to the ANC and those made by Papanicolas’s lawyer to the Glover Park Gazette, the document states that Papanicolas’s “truthfulness … has been called into question,” which “inevitably raises a significant question regarding Mr. Papanicolas’s character and fitness for licensure.”

At its September 28 meeting, Papanicolas told the ANC that his corporation, BJ Enterprises, owned the club’s liquor license “and had not sold it to anyone,” the resolution states. Meanwhile, Papanicolas’s attorney, James Charles, has told this paper that Papanicolas signed a contract last March to sell the business, including its license, to a new owner. That deal is contingent on the buyer’s securing a lease on the reconstructed building, which hadn’t happened at press time.

The source of the seeming contradiction is the definition of the word “sale,” Charles tells us. The pending contract is not for the sale of BJ Enterprises, but merely for all stock in BJ Enterprises. BJ is, and would remain, the owner of the liquor license, no matter who owns its stock. Therefore, the license itself has not technically been sold, he says.

The ANC also questioned why no placards had been posted at 2412 Wisconsin Ave. Ordinarily, when a liquor license is renewed—as the JP’s license was on September 30—the public has 45 days to protest, and the license holder must post placards to advertise this protest period. But, contrary to what both Charles and ABRA had told this paper earlier, dormant licenses are not placarded upon renewal. The protest period does not begin until the business reopens its doors.

And there’s the catch for JP’s. The buyer would naturally be reluctant to invest in a business whose liquor license is about to be challenged. But until the business reopens, the ANC’s challenge cannot be addressed. Charles insists that the license would survive any protest. “There aren’t any grounds for a protest,” he says. “You cannot prevent a man that’s had a business burned down from reopening it. That’s unconstitutional.” Referring to the club’s long tenure in the neighborhood, he adds, “If they’re protesting because they don’t like nude dancing, they’re 26 years too late.”

Charles says that Papanicolas is considering renegotiating the sale to retain some of his BJ Enterprises stock, in order to ease the club’s reopening. Charles also hopes to bring the buyer to meet with the liquor board, to assuage the buyer’s concerns. Would he also bring the buyer to meet with the ANC about their concerns? Charles says maybe. “We’ve always wanted to work in good faith with the neighborhood,” he adds.

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From the November 2010 edition of the Glover Park Gazette:

An owner of the new building at 2412 Wisconsin Avenue has finally confirmed that the former site of JP’s Night Club will likely be a strip club once again. Demetra Green, a member of the family group that owns the building, tells us that “JP’s is choosing to continue its lease, which was interrupted by the fire” that destroyed the previous building in early 2008.

But JP’s owner Michael Papanicolas has not signed a lease, according to his attorney, James Charles. Instead, Papanicolas signed a contract to sell the dormant business back in March, and it is his would-be buyer who has been negotiating with the landlords for a lease—so far, without success, Charles says.

Why the discrepancy over who wants a lease? Maybe because the club’s liquor license is currently up for renewal. Although Papanicolas might prefer to see his sale go through immediately, the buyer and the landlord would apparently rather wait until after the 45-day protest period expires and the license is safely renewed for two years.

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