Strip club closure is 'a turning point' for Cloverdale

The northeast corner of 176 Street and 57 Avenue: loaded with potential now that the strip club is shutting down, Cloverdale
The northeast corner of 176 Street and 57 Avenue: loaded with potential now that the strip club is shutting down, Cloverdale's business community says.
— image credit: JENNIFER LANG PHOTO

Saturday night is the last exotic dance at Cloverdale's Legacy Showroom.

The strip club in the Clover Inn is shutting down, signaling the end of an era for exotic entertainment in Surrey's historic town centre, and representing a turning point for Cloverdale.

In closing it down, Andrew Knott, president of Waterstone Investments, majority owner of the Clover Inn, said he was responding to pressure from the local business community, law enforcement officials, and the City of Surrey.

"It doesn't fit in anymore," Knott said. "The city has wanted it shut down for a long time."

The Clover Inn's guest rooms, and restaurant cafe are not affected by the decision, although Knott wants to relocate the liquor store to another retail location in Cloverdale, a plan that would require regulatory approval and a rezoning application.

Meanwhile, he's in the process of selling the Clover Inn, located at 5708 176 Street, to another buyer.

Future plans might include renovating the bar and the building, but nothing's been decided.

"I think it will be revamped a bit," he said. "It's a good spot for a lounge."

He called the decision to close the strip club, which was bringing in thousands of dollars in revenue each weekend, as a act of good faith to the neighbours.

Both the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce and the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association had been lobbying to shut the club down as a condition of moving the motel's liquor store. The Surrey RCMP's Cloverdale community policing office and the City of Surrey were also instrumental in convincing Knott to pull the plug.

The lounge has had a turbulent history. Turned into a strip club about 15 years ago, the Legacy Showroom had been associated with criminal activity and in 2009 was the site of a shooting that killed 34-year-old Christopher Whitmee, a father of two. His murder is still unsolved.

"Since that happened, they've been wanting this thing gone," Knott said.

Knott said he purchased the motel last year. The club has been on "wind down mode" for months, following the departure of a manager.

Layoff notices have been issued to half-dozen bar and wait staff, who will report for their last shift on Saturday, Jan. 14, Knott said.

"I think they knew it was coming."

Until recently, the lounge featured live nude dancers every night but Sunday. Entertainment had since been scaled back to just Friday and Saturday nights. Wednesday night featured amateurs.

Knott acknowledged critics who called the Legacy Showroom a "cancer" in the downtown that was hindering efforts to revitalize the historic town centre.

A few blocks away, there are promising signs of new investment springing up in Cloverdale.

Brick Yard Station, a new commercial development at the corner of Highway 10 and the 176 Street bypass (Highway 15), is opening in the spring. Tenants include a Staples, CIBC, Rexall Drugs, and a Starbucks.

And the old Cloverdale Mall – formerly located at 175 Street between 57 Avenue and 58 Avenue – was demolished last year to make way for a new commercial and residential development.

"There are going to be bigger and better things," Knott said. "A strip club didn't really fit in with that."

Cloverdale's business leaders are cheering the news that the Legacy is shutting its doors for good.

"That facility has been our biggest Achilles heel," according to Bill Reid, executive director of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce.

The motel's previous owner had made a commitment to the chamber and the BIA promising to close the strip club in return for support in seeking approval to move the liquor store.

"From the business community, one of the impediments of getting Main Street upgraded and improved has been what's going on in that corner," Reid said, pointing to the sort of clientele the club attracted.

He suggested the news will be a boon to attracting new commercial investment to the 5700-block of 176 Street. Reid hoped to see a electronics, furniture or even men's clothing store move in. "It's an opportunity to change the character of that corner," he said. "It's a turning point."

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