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Dispute over upscale bar near Skid Row

August 25, 2009 5:13:54 AM PDT
An investment group's effort to open an upscale bar in downtown Los Angeles near Skid Row has been set back by permit zoning problems and community opposition.The investment group was seeking a liquor license for a proposed bar on Main Street between 7th and 6th streets. The previous establishment, the notorious dive Craby Joe's, was closed nearly two years ago due to drugs.

Zoning administrator Sue Chang said at a hearing Tuesday that Fairfax Partners needs to apply for a type of permit for operating a bar at a new location. The permit they had applied for would have allowed them to continue operating a bar where one already existed.

The United Coalition East Prevention Project, an advocacy group for the Skid Row community, opposed the plan arguing area residents, many with addition problems, don't need a new bar in the area.

"There's a lot of catering to the new residents, what they're able to afford... amenities," said Kevin Key, community activist. "You know, there are real needs for real people in this community that we feel, I feel, are being overlooked."

Attorney and restaurateur Charles Lew and his investors envisioned an upscale bar for the nearby luxury apartments and lofts. Lew says he and his investors will regroup and decide if it's worth the time and money to pursue the permit.

"To say that a high-end lounge selling $12 drinks in going to contribute to someone on Skid Row, I can't even reach and correlate the two," said Lew. "Really at the end of the day the loser in this, I think, is the downtown area."

Key says his group will aggressively challenge any plan to open up a bar in the area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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