Temporary progress for Murray Hill leaders

Club closure seen as catalyst for change

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

While residents and business owners of Murray Hill may be breathing a sigh of relief at the news last month that the Fat Kat Lounge has closed, what happens next could go either way.
“The way it’s zoned right now I think they could move right back in and have another night club,” said Jim Love, District 14 Councilman. “I am certainly working to change that and the way to do it is with zoning.”

Fat Kat had been operating at the 1187 S. Edgewood Ave. location for about three years, and according to Love, former District 14 Councilman Jim Overton also had the same issue 12 years ago. “It was for a different kind of night club, and he fought it but lost,” said Love. “I have the zoning folks looking into it to determine if they’ve [Fat Kat] violated the current zoning.”

Between the time of the Feb. 16 early morning shooting, where one person died and four were injured, and the closing of the club less than a month later, Love held a public meeting at City Hall to discuss night club safety improvements. He shared ideas from other cities across the country and opened the floor to Murray Hill residents, area night club owners and operators. Late in the meeting Fat Kat’s manager, Eddie Kane, appeared and insisted that the problem wasn’t the club. “We do care. It’s not us,” he said. “We’re open for suggestions.”
Len Burroughs, vice president, Murray Hill Preservation Association, suggested that the club close for good. “Fat Kat needs to go.”

After the news that the lounge had closed, Burroughs shared this. “Murray Hill Preservation Association is very pleased that Fat Kat’s has closed. It is unfortunate that their employees lost their jobs but there has just been too much violence there for many years.”

An official statement from MHPA stated “We believe that Murray Hill property owners and businesses have a social responsibility to help keep Murray Hill clean, safe and vibrant. We hope the property owner and business operator will open in the space previously occupied by Fat Kat a neighborhood-friendly entertainment venue or eatery.”
Love felt the public meeting went well and was glad the many of the club owners and operators participated.

“We had a lot of good ideas. I knew the good club owners had ideas that we could implement into a new ordinance to make all clubs better. That’s what I was hoping for and I got it.”
Burroughs and Love are both enthusiastic about the changes that are occurring in Murray Hill. Bold Bean Coffee Roasters is opening a roasting facility right next to the former nightclub and also a bakeshop, Knead, which will serve brewed coffee, but not espresso beverages, according to Jay Burnett, co-owner of Bold Bean.
As for what’s to become of the empty lounge, “I would hope that a restaurant would go in there. That place is ready for a turn-around; it has improved,” said Love.
Burroughs also noted “The owner of the property has a liquor license so we will be getting something that serves alcohol and this is fine, but maybe a neighborhood bar and grill type
restaurant.”

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