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City orders Pearl Street nightclub closed Violent incidents there 'negatively impacted' downtown community, city official says

A Pearl Street nightclub was shuttered after the city's commissioner of inspections ruled that a string of violent incidents "negatively impacted" the downtown community.

Officials for Serenity Nightclub and the OPM lounge at 481 Pearl St. were served with an order late Friday afternoon that its license to operate was revoked by Richard M. Tobe, the city's commissioner of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services.

Tobe, in his 13-page opinion served on the establishment, cited several instances involving fights in or outside the club that resulted in violence, including shootings or stabbings dating back to spring 2006.

"Obviously, we're concerned about it anywhere," Tobe said. "This is a growing downtown community and it can be negatively impacted by these events."

Brian M. Melber, the attorney representing the bar owners, called Tobe's decision "unfair," arguing that Tobe sidestepped an administrative law judge's recommendation that there was insufficient evidence to close the bar. Melber said the establishment has worked hard to stay in compliance with city regulations and wants to be a good neighbor in the business district.

"They really want to be part of the good things happening downtown," Melber said. "The commissioner who issued this decision is not a neutral party, he's the plaintiff in this case."

Tobe's opinion pointed to a Jan. 6, 2007, brawl inside the OPM lounge.

"It took 15 police officers about 30 to 45 minutes to quell the violence," Tobe said. "It was outrageous."

Other incidents cited by Tobe:

*A fight inside the bar on Jan. 27 that spilled outside leading to the shooting of one man;

*A man who suffered a broken tooth Jan. 21 in an assault inside the OPM lounge;

*A male patron of the bar who was shot in the head outside the bar on Oct. 20, 2006;

*July 30, a male patron inside the OPM lounge was punched and stabbed.

*An apparent assault on a woman on May 14, 2006. She was punched in the head and knocked to the ground.

Melber said the city offered no evidence other than initial police reports to support allegations against the club.

"We look forward to an opportunity to present the facts and all of the evidence to a neutral party," said Melber, who anticipates his clients likely will seek an injunction to reopen the club while its legal case moves forward.


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