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Seattle approves 35 new parking spaces for Rick’s Nightclub which is Under Federal Investigation

Seattle- The city of Seattle has quietly approved 35 new parking spaces at one of the city’s most controversial institutions: a Lake City strip club under federal investigation for prostitution.

The decision allows patrons at Rick’s Nightclub on Lake City Way to park at a gas station and carwash owned by former Gov. Albert Rosellini. In exchange, the nightclub has to provide a parking attendant and a sound-buffering fence.

Rick’s last attempt to add parking to its property, in 2003, kicked off the so-called “Strippergate” scandal, and it was eventually exposed that Rick’s owner Frank Colacurcio Sr. [pictured] secretly funneled thousands in illegal campaign contributions into Seattle City Council members’ re-election campaigns just before the council approved the parking spaces.

Rosellini lobbied the City Council on behalf of the Colacurcio family for those parking spaces.

This additional parking is less controversial, in part because it is near Lake City Way and away from the residential areas that abut the club’s property. And according to neighbors and the planning department — which approved the parking Monday — patrons already park on the carwash property. This just makes it legal.

“It won’t affect us … they’re doing it anyway,” said Vic Webbeking, a neighbor of the club who has opposed Rick’s for years. Webbeking and other neighbors said it’s not unusual to find beer bottles tossed over their back fences from Rick’s parking lot and noise has been a problem.

Law-enforcement officials announced in June they were investigating Colacurcio and his business associates for allegedly promoting prostitution, money laundering, tax evasion and mail fraud at several strip clubs.

The results of an undercover investigation released over the summer said dancers at Rick’s and other clubs negotiate sex acts for money, sometimes openly engaging in sex acts in dimly lit “VIP areas” at Rick’s and other clubs owned by Colacurcio. No charges have been filed in the case.

Seattle Department of Planning and Development spokesman Bryan Stevens said the federal investigation did not factor into the city’s decision. Rather, it was a question of zoning, and the additional parking spaces are allowed under Seattle’s zoning regulations for the property.

The planning department cited a 2007 study that showed Rick’s was short about 18 spaces on Saturday nights. The new parking should help keep Rick’s patrons out of nearby neighborhoods, the decision said.

Rick’s will have to provide an on-site parking attendant after 6 p.m. and submit a plan to the city about how it would manage crime and litter in the parking lot.

Robert Thorpe, the land-use consultant who handled the permitting for the property owners, said the process took 2-½ years because it was done so thoroughly.

“It’s been hopefully done right,” he said. “I think it’s been looked at by many, many departments. It was guided by the city’s law department. It should be very well done and appropriate.”


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