Strip club application under review; questions remain

Matt Algarin
The site of the former Pottery World on Airport Road could be the future home of an adult entertainment club based on discussions that have taken place at City Hall.

After months of delays, the city is finally reviewing the application for The Runway, which would be the city's first strip club.

"We will be reviewing it for technical compliance," Community Development Director Ken Gallander told The Log Friday morning. "We'll look at all aspects of land development regulations, code regulations and the settlement agreement."

Developers of the proposed adult entertainment establishment, which would be located at 908 Airport Road, originally submitted their application in January with the intent to open by spring, but planners hadn't reviewed it as the city was still looking to have specific questions answered.

Through a series of letters between the city's legal team and representatives from the proposed strip club, there has been plenty of legal sparring. The city is asking the applicants, Trident-Operations LLC, to prove that they are in fact legally allowed to open a strip club under the settlement agreement the city entered into with the late Terry Stephenson in 2010.

Stephenson was shot and killed outside his strip club Pin Ups in late 2010.

In a letter dated March 22, the city's Land Use Attorney Scott Shirley reaffirmed to Destin attorney Dana Matthews, who represents the strip club, that the city would not "drop its request" for full disclosure of "all persons who currently have an 'influential interest' in Trident-Operations, LLC..." as well as "disclosure of the manner in which the apparent 'influential interest' of Terry Stephenson was transferred to the current persons with an 'influential interest' in Trident-Operations."

With questions about the legality of Trident's application still lingering, the city of Destin brought in some extra muscle recently by retaining Orlando-based attorney Anthony Garganese of Brown, Garganese, Weiss & D'Agresta, P.A. Garganese was on the city's payroll during the settlement agreement with Stephenson.

As the review process progresses, Gallander told The Log that "this is something new," so the city wants to make sure all of its questions are answered.

"We're still waiting on some information, like who is who," he said.