Laura Boyer and her 7-year-old daughter, Avery, were headed home from Avery’s summer musical practice at the Bushnell Building downtown on Thursday. But they crossed North Fountain Avenue, just before they got to the corner.
“Jazzy G’s Gentleman’s Club” opened to the public for the first time on Thursday night. The club has been highly disputed since the City of Springfield learned of its proposed opening in February.
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When the club first opened at 8 p.m., the waitresses wearing black lingerie outfits could be seen in the business’ large windows along North Fountain Avenue. “Jazzy G’s” shares a location with the Voodoo Moon House of Blues and Brews.
Red velvet ropes and security staff with wands greeted guests at the door. A dress code was enforced, and one patron was even turned away because he was wearing tennis shoes.
“It just doesn’t fit in here,” Boyer said.
She said she’d like to see something more family-oriented in the space — specifically referencing when the location was home to a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.
Avery suggested a candy shop.
The City of Springfield was originally made aware of the club when it came across a Facebook post in February describing the business with phrases like “VIP/private dances.”
The City sent Renea Turner, the owner of Voodoo Moon, a letter stating the current zoning of her business does not allow for an “adult business,” which would include activities like adult cabaret.
“City staff would not support a rezoning of the property to allow for an ‘adult business’ as the CI-1 Zoning Classification would not be consistent with the surrounding zoning designations,” the letter says.
In a previous interview, Turner said she’s hosted Chippendale dancers at her bar and it hasn’t been an issue.
“What we are doing is 100 percent legal,” Turner said previously. “It’s entertainment. It’s literally no different than what I’ve been doing all these years.”
Deputy City Manager Bryan Heck said the city will continue to monitor the situation as things could change from Thursday into the weekend, especially with Cinco de Mayo today.
“At this point, we just have to continue to monitor what they’re doing and make sure the activities are in compliance with the law,” he said. “It’s too early to discern whether they have violated any laws at this point.”
Heck said the opening of the club is being looked after by the city’s Community Development, Legal and the City Manager departments, as well as the Springfield Police Division.
Three officers from the Springfield Police Division did a walk through of the business at about 10 p.m. on Thursday.
Turner said the downtown area is in need of a rebirth, and she thinks this could could be the answer.
“Springfield is not thriving, like people tend to think they are,” she said previously. “You can go downtown on a Friday or Saturday night, and it’s empty. (This idea) will bring something new to downtown.”
Corie Puckett White, one of the business owners of neighboring Stick + Stone, said she and the two other owners invested in North Fountain Avenue because they saw great possibilities. She said the club will have a negative effect on their business in the future.
“Jazzy G’s” is open from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.