Breast-shaped nightclub to be sold, torn down

City of Winter Park to buy structure over market value

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

WINTER PARK, Fla. - A night spot with a history of alleged criminal activity, which boasts a rather "voluptuous" architectural design, could be torn down in a matter of months.

The building that now houses Club Rio, located near the entrance to Winter Park on Lee Road, has seen several strip clubs over the span of 40 years. It's best known to residents as its original name, The Booby Trap, which also described its domed design, resembling a woman's breasts.

A more recent name residents recognize is Club Harem, which battled with the city over several issues.

In a lawsuit filed against the city of Winter Park in 2010, the club claimed police officers bullied their employees and used illegal tactics to try to shut them down. In 2006, police arrested six Club Harem workers and three customers on drug charges.

Now, the building's owner has signed a sales contract, offering to sell the structure and the land to the city of Winter Park, which in turn plans to demolish the building and re-sell it.

No adult-oriented business will be allowed to open at the location, according to the city's code.

"I hate that building," said resident Diesta Gundacker. "I remember it when I was younger and we used to pass by."

David McDaniel agreed with her.

"It's a little embarrassing for the city of Winter Park to have that at one of its main entrances," he said. "With Lee Road and Interstate 4 there, it's one of the ways we get here on a daily basis."

The building's owners, 2600 Lee Road Property, LLC, said they want the city to pay $990,000 for the site.

City spokeswoman Clarissa Howard told Local 6 recent appraisals have assessed the value at $830,000, but the city may go ahead with the deal anyway.

She said the city and the property owner are currently embroiled in a legal fight over code enforcement and the money saved from stopping the fight would make up for any difference in price.

Regardless, many residents see the sale as an opportunity the city shouldn't pass up.

"It's been a bad building, a bad site, a bad venue for a long time and it would be great to see it changed," said Gundacker.

Winter Park city commissioners will vote on whether or not to approve the deal at the scheduled meeting Dec. 8 at 3:30 p.m.

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