LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As a new business looks to make its name in the Lexington Manor neighborhood, some residents are already speaking out about not wanting it there.
The area that encompasses the 900 block of Winchester Road is zoned by the city to allow for after-hours adult entertainment and nightlife.
After Flying Rhino LLC, The Office of Kentucky (The Player's Club) left their building following violence and a suspended license, Trifecta Gentleman's Club signed a lease with the building's owners to take over their spot.
However, after a number of shootings and violence, some neighbors have reached out to local officials arguing against their licensure citing safety reasons associated with potential patrons. That's despite it being a different business with new management.
"It's almost like every weekend when the bar was open," said Billy, who lives a block away from the building. "We're tired of seeing it."
The area has been labeled as unsafe and unmanageable by neighbors who blame the patrons those businesses serve.
"I think they need to rezone it," said Vince whose home was shot into six years ago.
There were five shootings within the 900 block of Winchester Road in 2019, three in 2020, five in 2021, and five so far in 2022 after this weekend's shooting.
Traumatized by the unpredictable violence, neighbors have told LEX 18 that they are moving and/or adding more cameras. Multiple people have reported having bullets pierce their homes unexpectedly.
There are several after-hours venues on Winchester Road including a motorcycle club and video store. However, most of the attention has been on the building owned by Bobbie and Sylvia Waller.
They purchased the building in the 1980s and retained ownership until May 2022. They received a property lean for code enforcement violations a month earlier.
The Player's Club's liquor licenses were revoked after a string of incidents involving police.
Billy says he's one of the neighbors who has sent a letter to the state asking them not to grant Trifecta's license. For him and others like him, it's not about who is in the space, but what.
"Over the last 6-7 years, we've had quite a few shootings and it's always when that club is open," said Billy.
We reached out to the new tenants of the building who told us security and safety are their highest priority.
Owners Brian and Katie McWherter sent a statement:
"Security and safety are our highest priority at Trifecta Gentleman's Club. While there will of course be security guards in the club itself, we will also have security outside monitoring the potential crowds and parking areas. We are diligently working with the office of Chief of Police in Lexington to ensure the safety of our patrons, staff and neighboring businesses and residents. As the new owners of 987 Winchester Rd., it is our goal to set a new precedence. There will be rules in place including a strict no weapons or violence policy as well as stringent dress code guidelines. Business hours will end at 3am. We intend Trifecta Gentleman's Club to be an inviting and safe space for those seeking a place to unwind and enjoy entertainment. "
An application for certificate of occupancy with the city was filed on October 12 and is still being processed because it's stuck in the zoning review process. The building in question is across the street from the adult video store.
The Department of Alcohol Beverage Control tells us they have not made a decision yet on granting them a license.
Councilmember Liz Sheehan has been reaching out to neighbors and businesses in that area that have had past safety concerns letting people know that there is a public feedback process where they can submit written comments on the license application.
Sheehan's office said in an email that she is "in regular communication with the Lexington Police Department and I appreciate their quick responses and ongoing attention to safety along the Winchester Road corridor. The community deserves to feel safe in their homes and have a voice in what happens in their neighborhood."
Community members met with police and council members in 2021 but felt no solution came of the discussions.
For the people who live nearby, right now, only time will tell what will happen next.