This evening the City Council delayed issuing a license for entertainment and dance to Mark Dean for his proposed Exchange Street Club in the Old Port of Portland. The Dean Club is to be located at Ten Exchange Street. directly beneath twenty-seven (27) high-end condominium units most of which have been sold already. According to a local real estate broker, Jonathan Cohen condo developer, has pulled the unsold units off the market. They will probably be rented in the future. In this way, he will retain control over the condominium association when votes are taken.
Several members of the City Council had questions about the application they wanted answered before acting on it. Outgoing councilor David Brennerman asked: “On what basis can we deny this license?”
Dean owns several bars in the Old Port, also includindg Marks Place, at 416 Fore Street. This venue has a reputation for featuring scantily clad dancers who are encouraged to dance on bar tables around poles. About twenty years ago, Dean a Portland resident, owned Mark’s Showplace; a strip joint in Westbrook.
Mike Russell, city inspections director, said that the application for the entertainment and dance license met all the city’s criteria. Russell, who attended tonight’s meeting, usually does not appear at city council meetings. This was a highly unusual appearance on Russell’s part. His department is constantly under criticism from many sources for its slowness in its work, despite many years of efforts to streamline the department.
“If I had known there were going to be a bar beneath us, we would not have bought the place. We don’t want to be living over a bar and a dance place,” Andrew Culpovich told the city council tonight, testifying at length in opposition to the city issuing the license. “Mark Dean has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of the city’s ordinances. Does this area need another bar? No,” Culpovich answered his own question.
Jennifer Culpovich, his wife, testified as well that on Friday, September 22, her family’s first night was remarkable. And not for the reasons expected. She found it necessary to call the Portland Police Department twice because of screaming and other noise outside their condo window. The second call was placed about 3:15 am. The couple has three young children.
“I asked Jonathan Cohen what the space beneath our condominium was going to be used for,” Andrew told this blogger following the city council meeting this evening. Andrew asked Cohen this question specifically at the closing of their condo on September 22nd. “Cohen was at the closing. He told us that it was going to be used for storage. Nothing more.” In fact, a lease for the Exchange Street Club was signed by Mark Dean on August 25, 2017 according to the document seen by this blogger late last week. Cohen knew on September 22 that the space on the first floor was intended to be a bar with entertainment and dance. Cohen is the developer of Ten Exchange Street as well as the new WEX international headquarters on the Portland waterfront. The WEX closing was put on the fast track to close on Sunday, October 1, 2017.
According to a real estate broker as mentioned previously herein, Jonathan Cohen has pulled off the market the remaining units that will not be sold. That way he will have the controlling vote in the condominium association. He can overrule whatever the few who have already purchased may vote to do. And the city of Portland wants to do business with Cohen. Do you?
Controversial landlord Joe Soley owns the storefront in which the Exchange Street Club would be located. The city probably doesn’t want to do business with Joe Soley, either!
Please see two previous posts herein on the Exchange Street Club controversy.