DENIED: Licensing Committee won't allow proposal for Silk Exotic club near downtown to move forward

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee's Licensing Committee says "no" to Silk Exotic. Silk wants to open a club near downtown Milwaukee, and the Licensing Committee considered two potential locations on Wednesday, December 10th -- in hearings that lasted nearly eight hours!

After being denied licenses to operate at several other locations, Silk Exotic officials chose two potential sites in the Walker's Point neighborhood.

The first option is at South 5th Street and West Virginia. UPDATE: The Licensing Committee voted to recommend the full Common Council DENY a license at this location.

The second is at South Barclay and Walker. UPDATE: Late Wednesday, the Licensing Committee voted to recommend the full Common Council DENY a license at this location.

"I think again today we were discriminated against. I don't think they took into consideration my reputation in the city. They listened to a bunch of fears of people -- fears of the unknown. People who really have no idea what they're talking about," Silk Exotic owner Jon Ferraro said.

The first hearing, set to discuss the South 5th Street and West Virginia location was scheduled for 1:00 p.m., with the second hearing, set to discuss the South Barclay and Walker location set for 2:30 p.m. As of 4:00 p.m., the Licensing Committee was still hearing public comments in the first of the two hearings.

The discussion about the second potential location continued into Wednesday night.

Committee officials on Wednesday let those opposed to the application for the location at S. 5th Street and West Virginia speak first, and there were many of them.

“The facilities are associated with sleazy areas that do not connotate what everybody is trying to do, including the city and many people here to build up the Fifth Ward," Peggy Coakley, the president/CEO of Coakley Brothers said.

Coakley Brothers is located on South 5th Street.

“I object to the application primarily on the density of liquor licenses already existing in the area, problems at bar time and I frequently, or my husband frequently ends up calling police," Betty Ulmer, who lives in the area said.

Silk Exotic's attorney challenged some of the objections.

Following a recent lawsuit, a judge advised that portions of the city's ordinance used to deny Silk owners a license in the past were unconstitutional. Silk's owners have said they will drop the lawsuit filed against the city of Milwaukee if they're issued a license.

Committee members, for their part, made known their position:

“This committee does not consider the nature of the business and that will not factor into our determination one way or the other," Alderman Tony Zielinski said.

"I think it's an unfit location. I've been out there at night. I've been out there when it was congested with everyone having a license in the area, and it will cause issues in the neighborhood," Alderman Jose Perez said.

The first hearing lasted so long, some interested in speaking about the South Barclay and Walker location had to leave.

One business owner told FOX6 News he has a $100,000 business deal that hinges on whether a new Silk Exotic club is approved for South Barclay and Walker.

There are currently three Silk Exotic clubs in Wisconsin -- in Milwaukee, Middleton and Juneau.

Jon Ferraro tells FOX6 News he's currently in negotiations for another lease. He says he'll be back in front of the Licensing Committee within 90 days. He won't say what location he's considering next.

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