A blow has been struck in the name of fun: Owners of the ultra-lounge Plush fought for their right to party and won today at the City Plan Commission, when the panel voted to extend the club's specific use permit (SUP) for one year. As we mentioned yesterday, the club has been operating illegally since September: Its SUP expired, it didn't have a certificate of occupancy, and there weren't no dance-hall license. City staff had recommended denial of the motion, but co-owner and operator Kevin Richardson seems to have softened their hearts (or maybe the commission just didn't want to seem anti-fun).
It took a while to get to there: The CPC got to Plush's SUP three and a half hours into the meeting, after the commission had already decided to re-name Impala Drive off Northwest Highway -- it'll now be called Theater Way, as in the Dallas Children's Theater -- and approved that town home development across the street from the Dallas Farmers Market, over the objections of the Farmers Market shareholders. (Those are the same folks, remember, who are unhappy about the proposed supportive housing project for the chronically homeless and who have battled for years with the management of The Bridge.)
When it was finally Richardson's turn at the mic, he began with an apology. "I could have avoided a lot of this by following code and operating correctly," he said. "I could see how you would think I didn't take this process seriously."
Richardson added that he was "more than willing" to work with neighbors who opposed the club. And, how flattering, he name-checked Unfair Park, saying Plush seemed to have a lot of supporters in the comments section. (Well, besides the ones who used some iteration of the phrase "super douche-a-torium" when referring to his clientele, right?)
"Those are not people I asked to comment," Richardson said. "Those are comments from the general public. The overall perception is we're a good venue, we're doing a good job, and we're not doing any harm."
Richardson said Plush's much-discussed day buffet has been up and running for two weeks, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. "It's a great healthy option," he promised, saying they'd served 500 people in the last eight days. He also reminded the commission of the celebrities and musicians who visit Plush, which, he said, "brings credibility to downtown."
After three people (one of them an employee of the club) spoke in support of the SUP, two spoke in opposition, both employees of Plush's neighbors at Third Rail Lofts.
"I don't think any of us truly want Plush to go away," said Rebecca Artz, Third Rail's community director and a resident. She called their Motley Crue party "phenomenal" but said, "The rooftop deck is really the main concern for me."
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Commissioner Bill Peterson expressed some skepticism that the buffet would stick around after the SUP was approved. "The club has a history of, as soon as you get a permit, it goes away," he told Richardson. "What assurance do we have that won't happen again?"
"Besides that I've not slept a wink?" Richardson responded.
The commission ultimately approved the SUP for one year with no automatic renewal. Plush will have to provide on-site security from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and turn off the rooftop speakers at 11 p.m. In order to stay in compliance, they also have to apply for renewal of the SUP 180 days before it's set to expire.
"We beat you up pretty good last time," Michael Davis, the commission's vice-chair, told Richardson. "But you're making strides to operate as you should." After wishing Plush good luck he added, once again, "You're being watched." That kind of fun's not for everybody, guys.