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Photo by: Tim Freed - The former Booby Trap building was torn down in early 2015. Now the city is willing to lose money selling the property.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, May 5, 2016 4 years ago

City OK with losing money on Booby Trap

Property overpaid for?
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

Winter Park may have a potential buyer for the former Booby Trap property – a transaction that would still leave the city $160,000 in the hole.

The City Commission will discuss an offer to purchase the property at 2600 Lee Rd. – once the site of the last remaining gentlemen’s club in the city – at their upcoming May 9 meeting. The offer of $830,000 – the appraised value – comes from a buyer named Nagi Youssef, who plans to start a medical office at the site.

The twin-domed profile of Christie’s Cabaret, formerly known as Club Harem, Club Rio and the Booby Trap, had drawn stares along Lee Road just east of Interstate 4 since the 1970s. The club changed hands several times over the years; but was finally razed to the ground in February 2015 after the city purchased the property in December 2014 for $990,000, a much greater sum than its appraised value.

The city had been facing litigation regarding whether a previous adult entertainment business had “gone dark” for more than 90 days, thus depriving them of their right to operate. Winter Park staff advised that overpaying for the property would still outweigh the oncoming legal costs the city was facing.

That still didn’t sit well with Winter Park residents at the time.

“I don’t have any real problem with the building being there and I don’t have a problem getting rid of it,” resident Steven Roberts told the City Commission following their decision to purchase the property in late 2014. “What I have a problem with is losing money doing it.”

“That’s $160,000 for the sake of getting rid of a couple of boobs on Lee Road. That to me seems extreme.”

Ken Bradley, the mayor of Winter Park at the time, reasoned that the business had a history of crime and drug trafficking, and that getting rid of it was for the best.

“I think this is the right thing for Winter Park to do,” Bradley said outside the building moments before it was destroyed. “I’m proud to be here not because of what this stood for, but because of what it’s going to stand for in our city’s future.”

“It’s symbolic of what we’re doing in Winter Park to continue to improve.”

Talks had surfaced the month before demolition regarding the Winter Park strip club’s conical buildings possibly being relocated out-of-state. Tom Veigle, the original builder and owner of the building, said he wanted to take the two fiberglass domes, originally purposed as permanent tents, and use them for a campsite at the Thomas Kosmon Veigle Children’s Foundation – an orphanage he established in Tiger, Ga., in 2004 in honor of his deceased son.

Veigle decided that the endeavor would be too costly and looked on as the building was reduced to rubble.

“Those sections come apart, but after 40 years of paint and weather, they corroded and there’s no way you can get them apart,” Veigle said. “I’ll just buy new domes for the campsite.”

Staff has recommended the city sell the property at its appraised value.

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