Depending on how you define the boundaries of Lake Highlands, the sexually-oriented business (SOB) proposed for the industrial area just across LBJ Freeway from Highland Oaks Church of Christ isn’t really even in our neighborhood. The vacant land at 10995 Petal Lane sits between Royal/Miller and Walnut Hill/Kingsley on the boundary of Dallas and Garland. (The road names change at the Garland City Limits.)
But that doesn’t mean LH residents and business owners aren’t worried.
“We are extremely concerned about an increase in crime and a decrease in property values if such a business is allowed to build on this property,” says Charles Belcher, who moved his business, Onstage Systems, to Petal Lane 15 years ago. He saw a spike in crime and mischief at his previous location, near Northwest Highway and Shiloh, when the New Fine Arts adult video store went in.
Belcher, who now runs his business with the help of his grown children, is concerned about his employees and their families. Belcher’s home schooled granddaughter and other children home sick or out for holidays or appointments routinely spend time in the office’s break area.
Lake Highlands resident Alkos Giagtzis, owner of Epsilon Services Group, Inc., signed a contract to purchase the 3-acre Petal Lane tract contingent upon being granted an adult cabaret license. He’ll apply to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for a license to sell liquor when his SOB is approved. His application says the dance hall will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. 7 nights a week, and he told me he’ll operate “a fine, state-of-the-art gentleman’s club.” He’s working with a group of investors who’ll spend $2 million to make it “as nice as anything Las Vegas has to offer” — topless, not all-nude — and says it’s unfortunate Dallas has a tendency to be offended by SOBs.
His other next door neighbor, Joel Burch, CFO of Interstate Wire, shares Belcher’s concerns.
“A sexually oriented business on this site in the middle of an industrial street is the last thing in the world I expected to face. There’s no other retail on the block. This is strictly a warehouse district.”
Interstate Wire built their building in 1994 and expanded in 2001.
“We built an additional building at Plano and Markison in 2012, so we have quite a presence, a big investment here. I don’t understand the logic of putting that business in here. It’s confounding us all. We’re worried about property values. We think an SOB will bring more problems. We’ve already had burning cars, cars crashing into buildings, stolen cars – we’ve had to install 35 cameras trying to keep the misfits at bay. We have to have a big gate and fence, and this is only going to hurt matters.”
“Ours is a family business,” continues Burch. “We’re in our 40th year and we’re owned by the Fleming family. We have employee family members in here all the time. We have customers, vendors and bankers here. This is a very nice building we have built, and we are proud of it. This is just a shock.”
Though he’s not wild about PT’s Men’s Club nearby, Burch says their location at Plano and Miller makes more sense, and he’s worried about the high-visibility advertising Giagtzis will be required to use to bring in patrons.
“PT’s, with its gold and palm trees, sticks out like a sore thumb, but I can understand it. That’s on a main thoroughfare, at least. I can only guess what they will do to the buildings and on billboards to pull in traffic off the highway.”
Come-hither billboards on LBJ would likely be visible from Highland Oaks Church of Christ (HOCC), host to several community events, including the Lake Highlands Women’s League home tour luncheon and bazaar each December, and Hoops in the Highlands, which brings hundreds of basketball-playing youngsters and their families to the HOCC parking lot each April.
There is no formal protest process, says Maureen Milligan, Dallas City Attorney and Chief of Community Prosecution, because Giagtzis isn’t required to go before the City Plan Commission or City Council. The process involves applying to the Dallas Police Department for a specific use permit, which will likely to be approved since the property is 1000 feet from the nearest school, park, hospital, child care facility or church (it’s 1300 feet from HOCC) and meets other requirements. Residents opposed to DPD’s granting of the license may send emails to David Pughes, acting police chief, at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to 1400 S. Lamar, 75215.
Update: Chief Pughes contacted Advocate by email Monday to say he received “tons of emails” on the proposed SOB after our story. He added, “I have spoken to the City Attorneys and I do not have the authority to deny the license based on community opposition.” Pughes did not say if or when Giagtzis and his investors would be approved.