The Federal Highway corridor has a dual personality where it extends into Oakland Park from Fort Lauderdale. Just north of Federal Highway’s intersection with Oakland Park Boulevard, two closed strip clubs about a block apart lie dormant on the west side of the road across from the bustling Coral Ridge Mall on the east side.
But the look and feel of that forlorn area on the west side could change substantially if the owners can redevelop the former strip clubs, the old Pure Platinum at 3411 N. Federal Hwy. and the old Solid Gold at 3339 N Federal Hwy. Pending redevelopment of the vacant properties would be Oakland Park’s reward for wining a 30-year legal fight to close the strip clubs.
Among other pending changes to the landscape is demolition of the fortress-like Solid Gold property, which has a side entrance and a ground-level strip of mostly empty retail storefronts facing Federal Highway, including a vacated Subway sandwich shop.
A Bahama Breeze restaurant with a patio would be built on the Solid Gold site, according to development plans filed with the city of Oakland Park by the owner of the Solid Gold property, which includes a parking lot along NE 20th Avenue.
Bahama Breeze, part of Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, proposed building a 243-seat restaurant with a 142-seat outdoor patio on the site. Construction of the 7,987-square-foot restaurant and 2,780-square-foot outdoor patio would follow demolition of the former strip club and retail strip center, which have about 20,000 square feet of space.
“That site will be scrapped clean,” says Linda Nunn, a Fort Pierce-based real estate consultant to Bahama Breeze. “There’s no way to redevelop what’s there into a place that you or I would go to eat.”
An application that Bahama Breeze filed with Oakland Park’s Planning and Zoning Division also described the Bahamian architectural style of the planned restaurant, complete with “vibrant colors” and “a mix of high-quality materials including stone, ship lap siding, metal roofing and ornamental aluminum railings.” Open hours would be 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, with closing time extended to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
About one block north, redevelopment also is pending for the former Pure Platinum strip club, which from the outside resembles an upscale warehouse or self-storage center.
Real estate investors Amos Chess and Don Deitchman bought the Pure Platinum property after the prior owner withdrew from a long-running legal battle with Oakland Park.
The Sun-Sentinel reported in August that Chess and Deitchman plan to build a midrise apartment building with ground-floor commercial space on the Pure Platinum site.
Chess and Deitchman also share ownership of a nearby landmark, the old KenAnn building, a cylindrical eight-story structure with three rings of blue light at the top that mark its location at night. Chess bought the building at 3101 N. Federal Hwy. for $10.4 million in 2013 and subsequently sold part of it to Deitchman.
Of his and Deitchman’s plans for the old KenAnn building and the Pure Platinum site, Chess will only say: “They are going to change the city of Oakland Park.”
Change is what the city has wanted since the Pure Platinum strip club opened under a different name in 1987 across Federal Highway from the upscale Coral Ridge neighborhood.
Pure Platinum and Solid Gold ultimately closed because the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed last year that the city of Oakland Park could regulate activity at strip clubs.
“If they wanted to have total nudity, they couldn’t sell alcohol,” says Oakland Park City Attorney D.J. Doody.
The city first went to court to shut down Pure Platinum after it opened 30 years ago, but a federal judge in that case ruled that the city had to allow nudity at the club.
“Nudity is a form of expression protected by the First Amendment,” Doody says. However, “you can regulate the consumption of alcohol.” So, in 2004, revisions to city ordinances banned the sale of alcoholic beverages at strip clubs with nude performers and prohibited physical contact between performers and patrons.
That triggered lawsuits against the city by both Pure Platinum and Solid Gold. The city settled the suits by suspending enforcement of its drinking and touching rules at strip clubs for 11 years, from 2004 to 2015.
Under that settlement, Solid Gold was supposed to close by November 2015 and Pure Platinum could stay open if it complied with city rules. But near the end of the 11-year period, the strip clubs combined their operations at Pure Platinum and filed a lawsuit against Oakland Park one more time in a last-ditch legal maneuver to beat the city in court.
After the 11th Circuit shot down that suit this year, Michael J. Peter, the operator of the combined strip club under the Pure Platinum name, relocated to Pompano Beach and opened a strip club there in mid-June under the Solid Gold name. Peter did not respond to a phone message from Fort Lauderdale Magazine.
Doody says Oakland Park’s long legal fight with the strip clubs is typical. “There’s a lot of litigation,” he says, “in adult entertainment.”