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Scores rejection upheld

Philadelphia- After two hard-fought rounds against the city, it’s Scores zero.

A Philadelphia judge has affirmed the zoning board’s denial of a bid to put a branch of Scores, the national chain of “upscale adult entertainment nightclubs,” in a former meatpacking plant at 450 N. Sixth St., on the edge of Center City.

In a 14-page opinion filed last Friday, Common Pleas Court Judge Gary S. Glazer wrote that the Zoning Board of Adjustment acted within its authority May 9 when it denied Sebastian Hanson’s permit application.

“There was more than substantial evidence to support the board’s decision to deny the certificate,” Glazer wrote, noting that the board had conducted three hearings and filed 338 pages of transcript testimony and documents.

“Furthermore, this court may not substitute its own judgment for that of the board,” Glazer added. “The board is only required to set forth sufficient facts and reasons to show that its actions are not arbitrary.”

Joseph Beller, attorney for Hanson’s SPH Associates, could not be reached for comment on whether he would appeal to Commonwealth Court.

Andrew S. Ross, a divisional deputy city solicitor who heads the Law Department’s Administration Enforcement Division, said he expected an appeal.

Hanson’s effort to reincarnate his shuttered Bash dance club into Scores Philadelphia is another example of the impact of the downtown’s changing face.

Once, Philadelphia north of Callowhill Street from about Eighth to Fifth Streets was a no-man’s-land of industrial buildings defended from pedestrians by the Vine Street Expressway and the ramps to and from the Ben Franklin Bridge.

But residential growth in Northern Liberties to the north, Old City to the south, and Chinatown to the west has expanded to where the neighborhoods seem ready to meet near Hanson’s building.

At the zoning hearings this year, Hanson and Beller argued that an adult cabaret would be a suitable, even superior, use for a building in a tract zoned for limited industrial use.

Beller said that there were no homes within 500 feet of the building, and that the area was basically abandoned after dark.

And officials of Scores Holding Co. maintained that the clubs had a record of being good neighbors in New York, Chicago, and four other cities where they operate.

Scores clubs feature nude or topless women – depending on local rules – as well as food, drink, and live entertainment.

But residents and property owners from Northern Liberties and Old City, as well as City Councilman Frank DiCicco, testified that the neighborhood had evolved to the point where an adult cabaret would no longer be an asset.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment agreed, ruling that the Scores proposal did not include enough parking, would arguably “endanger public safety,” and could have a “deleterious effect on the surrounding area, including planned residential and commercial development.”


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