City coming for your Cheshire Bridge porn

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A push to redevelop Cheshire Bridge Road — the place where gay porn stars dine, gay boys strip and dance into the wee hours, older lesbians gather to reminisce and booty calls sometimes end badly — may scrub the corridor of its popular porn palaces, gloryholes and strip joints.

A new legislative effort by Alex Wan, the lone openly gay member of the Atlanta City Council, hopes to clean up the red light district by pushing out sexually-oriented businesses that dot the strip and were shielded by a 2005 rezoning effort that protected them from closure. Wan says it’s time for those businesses to conform to city zoning regulations or move and make way for developments that will.

“It just has the potential for being something very, very different than what it is today,” Wan says. “It’s been seven years, and there’s really been no movement in that corridor. Everyone around it is getting frustrated wondering if the vision is ever going to happen.”

Which of your favorite sex places might find themselves on the chopping block? The businesses that were grandfathered in seven years ago when the city rezoned the strip as neighborhood commercial. Wan (second photo) says that includes places classified by the city as “adult businesses” but can’t tick off a specific list. He points to the city’s planning department, though a spokesperson there says the city doesn’t maintain a list of what businesses were grandfathered in under the 2005 rezoning.

But a city-provided inventory of businesses along Cheshire between Lindbergh and Piedmont shows a handful of “adult businesses” that cater to gay customers, including Bliss, Inserection and Southern Nights. The “adult” inventory also incudes Doll House, Onyx, Uptown Novelty, Naughty Girls Lingerie and Starship.

Wan says seven years is long enough, and neighborhood activists and developers with an eye on properties along the site are ready to help elbow those businesses out.

“The neighborhoods have been trying to find a way to sunset the grandfather. There is going to be continued pressure from everybody to not be there anymore,” Wan says.

Selig Enterprises owns eight acres along Cheshire, including the gay-popular Colonnade and crime-blotter popular Cheshire Motor Inn. The company is itching to move forward on a mixed-use development in the area while Fuqua Development is nearing the start of a six-acre mixed-use project at Piedmont and Cheshire to replace the aging Rock Springs retail center, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

“This is one of the best mixed-use projects in town,” said Jeff Fuqua, principal of Fuqua Development. “It’s really going to change the dynamics and feel of that whole area. Anywhere people invest this kind of money, great things happen.”

Wan’s proposal – it’s actually two ordinances that set a time limit for some commercial uses along Cheshire – has gained the backing of neighborhood groups and goes before the city’s Zoning Review Board in January. From there, it’s on to the City Council, though Wan says there is still time to discuss the ordinance revisions.

Wan says the city’s industrial areas can accommodate the sexually-oriented businesses if they are forced from Cheshire. He also would support the creation of an adult entertainment district, though there’s no legislative effort to propose that.

“There is obviously a demand and a market for this. If we could find the right space for it, to me it is definitely worth exploring as we continue to see that there is a market for it,” he says.


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