Social club for Muslim men coming to 1619 University


A building that has recently drawn neighborhood complaints is poised for a new life – 1619 University Ave. could become a social club for Muslim men. But the building needs some work before a condemnation order is lifted and a new use can go in. Any new club operator needs to reassure residential neighbors to the north that it will operate in a way that doesn’t disrupt the neighborhood.
Correction orders for the building were the focus of a July 28 St. Paul legislative hearing. Various code issues have to be addressed by the building owner before the building can be occupied again, and the club use can start. In the meantime, a reinspection is set for late August.
The matter goes to the St. Paul City Council this fall for final action.
Legislative Hearing Officer Marcia Moemond said the building owner is responsible for behaviors there. Among her suggestions were improved lighting and cameras. She also suggested neighboring residential properties have cameras installed.
Built in 1987, it was originally the home of the Pizza Papa restaurant, where patrons could dine on a rooftop deck overlooking University. The building later housed a salon and then a barber/beauty shop. In September 2019 a limited liability corporation called SmartBar LLC registered at the address. It was to be a business incubator. But those plans were set aside.
The building owner, Salon Elise Inc./Elisa Sloves, has a tenant who wishes to use the building as a social club.
James Peroutka, an inspector with the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI), said there have been complaints about recent use of the building as a hookah lounge and as an after-hours club. Complaints started in July 2020. Those uses aren’t allowed by the city.
Neighbor Natalie Singer said issues began in July 2020, with large groups of people in the building parking lot and University-Sherburne alley until 2-4 a.m. Loud music, noise and gunshots rattled neighbors. She said neighbors wouldn’t have problems with a club use if activities occurred during normal business hours.
“It’s been a year of issues,’ she said.
Attorney Ryan Case spoke on behalf of the planned new use. The planned social club for Muslin men wouldn’t permit such uses, and would not have groups smoking outside. Nor would tobacco products or alcohol be served or sold.


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