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Judge rules strip club must go to make way for expanded road

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

It may be closing time for the last strip club operating in DuPage County.

A judge ruled Monday that state transportation officials can condemn the land occupied by Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club because they need it for a planned $38 million road widening project.

“Therefore, the taking of this property is necessary,” DuPage County Judge John Elsner wrote in his decision.

The 5,100-square-foot adult club featuring nude dancers but no alcohol won’t shut down right away, though.

Despite the ruling, the club on North Avenue at Powis Road near West Chicago is likely to remain open for several more months, attorneys said.

An order giving owners 90 days to vacate the club has been sent, though a court hearing to determine the final price for the parcel also is needed, said attorney Richard Redmond, who represented the Illinois Department of Transportation in the condemnation action.

The club’s owner, On Stage Productions, ultimately could appeal Elsner’s order, though representatives couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

IDOT plans to take about 5,500 square feet from the site — including a chunk of the building itself — as part of a project to expand North Avenue to six lanes from four and build a new right turn lane on Powis Road.

That acquisition would require demolishing the club so the property also could be used for a traffic signal, as well as drainage and sewer improvements.

Transportation officials want to temporarily take another slice of the 33,000-square-foot property to store construction equipment while the North Avenue reconstruction work progresses.

State officials moved to condemn the property after they offered the owner $687,000, but received no acceptance or counter-offer, Redmond said.

“The department wants to get going with the project,” Redmond said.

The club features nude dancers, but can’t serve alcohol. For years, however, it allowed patrons to bring their own liquor into the building.

That practice changed after a deadly 2006 car crash in which John Homatas left the club drunk, then slammed into an oncoming vehicle, killing the pregnant driver and his own passenger.

Homatas received a 12-year prison term and in 2009 DuPage County officials barred patrons from having any open liquor at the club.

Club owners sought to block the condemnation, arguing at a recent hearing that state officials didn’t negotiate in good faith, didn’t show the acquisition was necessary to the project and specifically targeted the parcel because it contained an adult club.

Elsner rejected those arguments, particularly noting there was no evidence the club’s adult use was considered.

“This intersection was treated the same as every other intersection involved in this extensive project,” Elsner said in his ruling.

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