Still open, but Facade cuts hours New location sought for club

January 28, 1993|By Eric Siegel | Eric Siegel,Staff Writer

The Facade nightspot in Northwest Baltimore, which the city is trying to close down, has agreed to curtail the days and hours it is open while the club and city officials try to find a new location for it to operate.

Facade, at 5507 Reisterstown Road, agreed to close by 2 a.m. this weekend -- at least an hour earlier than usual -- and to open only on Friday next weekend pending a Feb. 2 meeting with representatives of the city housing department and community groups.

The meeting is being held at the suggestion of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

On Tuesday, the zoning board was set to hear an appeal by Facade of the city's October rejection of its new application to operate as a restaurant with dancing.

But the city, the community and the club's owners agreed to the Feb. 2 meeting.

If no agreement is reached at that meeting, the zoning board will hear Facade's appeal Feb. 16.

During Tuesday's meeting, the zoning board chairman, Lalit H. Gadhia read a letter from Mayor Schmoke, which said the city is "sensitive to the desire of Facade to operate as a business."

But the mayor also said that "overriding concerns of public safety, peace, protection of property and other responsibilities of government are being expressed . . . to an extent that can no longer be ignored."

In September, the city revoked the club's original permit to run a restaurant with dancing on the grounds that it did not serve any food. Facade then applied for the new permit.

The club claims that its permit was revoked arbitrarily because it does in fact serve food and says that any perceived problems have been greatly exaggerated.

But city officials contend that the Facade's patrons, mostly teen-agers and young adults, have caused problems of vandalism and crowd control.

The agreement for the Feb. 2 meeting averted what promised to be a stormy reprise of last summer's hearing over the closing of Odell's, another nightspot that catered to teen-agers and young adults. The city finally forced the club to close after a battle that lasted more than a year.

Frank Rodrigues, the owner of Facade and a popular radio disk jockey also known as Frank Ski, held out the possibility that he might able to persuade city officials and community groups to allow him to continue to operate at his current location.

But he added, "We're keeping an open mind. We want to work with the city."

Fifth District Council member Rochelle "Rikki" Spector said the meeting represented a "real honest-to-goodness effort to find a better fit" between after-hours clubs and the areas in which they operate.

"There's obviously a great need for this kind of business," the councilwoman said said.

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