Doll House demolished due to divine intervention…or eminent domain

Doll House demolished due to divine  intervention…or eminent domain

Whether it is a result of divine intervention or the Florida Department of Transportation, the Doll House, a strip club long embroiled in controversy over its proximity to a St. Nicholas church and its neighboring schools, has finally been demolished.

“I am thankful it’s completely gone. Of course it will probably move elsewhere, but  at least it won’t be across the street from a church and school.” Don Redman City Council member

“I am thankful it’s completely gone. Of course it will probably move elsewhere, but
at least it won’t be across the street from a church and school.”
Don Redman, City Council member

Last month, the Doll House was stripped off the property at 2220 Atlantic Boulevard by the FDOT as part of the Overland Bridge project, currently underway to replace 2.3 miles of I-95 with a series of overpasses that carry traffic over Hendricks, Kings and Montana Avenues south of downtown.
The strip club, considered by many to be a cesspool of immorality, is one step closer to its future as a retention pond.

The Doll House had been under scrutiny for operating an adult entertainment business across the street from elementary and high school students who attend Assumption Catholic School and Bishop Kenny High School. According to Jacksonville Municipal Code 656.1103, there are specific buffer restrictions for adult entertainment businesses including one which requires them to be at least 1,000 feet from a school or church.

While the Doll House was out of compliance, they had been allowed to continue to operate because their existence predated the restrictions.

In 2005, the City Council passed Ordinance 2005-743-E which required any adult entertainment establishment that did not conform to the City’s adult zoning scheme to stop operating by 2010. That’s when Charlie Hartsock, operator of the Doll House since 1986, along with the owner of The New Solid Gold Club, sued the City of Jacksonville and lost.

They appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta. While the appeal was pending the City enacted further legislation consistent with its legal position and the appellate court upheld the decision.

The FDOT spent $60.6 million to purchase 155 parcels of property, totaling 45.8 acres of right-of-way necessary to complete the Overland Bridge project. “We had to purchase a lot more property than we usually have to for this project because of the scale of it,” said Mike Goldman, Public Information Officer for the FDOT. “We have to pay fair market value.”
In a 2011 news article, Hartsock estimated the value of his land and business to be $1.5 million; however Hartsock Enterprises was ultimately paid $419,940 by the FDOT for the property.

City Council member Don Redman, who represents the neighborhood where the Doll House was located, said that residents are excited that it is no longer there. “I am thankful it’s completely gone,” Redman said. “Of course it will probably move elsewhere, but at least it won’t be across the street from a church and school.”
Among the rubble of disrepute there is said to be a miraculous medal which may have just lived up to its name.

Father Fred Parke, pastor of Assumption Catholic Church, was involved in the advocacy to have the Doll House closed. At the time, the Sisters of Divine Mercy visited the parish for a retreat and heard the controversy associated with the Doll House.

Parke said that one day during their visit one of the Sisters told him the Doll House would be demolished. When he asked her to clarify what she meant, she told him how she and the other two Sisters prayed to the Blessed Mother for it to be torn down. “Then they went to the Doll House at seven in the morning, dressed in their full black attire and lobbed a blessed miraculous medal on the roof,” Parke said. “So somewhere in that rubble was the medal they threw up there.”

“We were just trying to close it. I never thought it would be torn down,” Parke explained. “But that’s what the Sisters said, that it would be
demolished.”

By Lara Patangan
Resident Community News

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