City abandons its attempts to expropriate red light landmark
Published Thursday, March 10, 2011 9:36PM EST
MONTREAL - Some of the last remaining red lights on the Lower Main will stay lit.
The City of Montreal has thrown in the towel after over a decade of trying to purchase and demolish a strip-club fixture on the city's fabled tenderloin.
On Wednesday, the city's Executive Council voted to ditch its attempt to expropriate the Café Cleopatre, a three-storey building that houses exotic dancers downstairs and a bar upstairs where transvestites perform song and dance routines in drag.
The developers amassed ownership of the west side of St. Laurent between St. Catherine and Rene-Levesque with the exception of the bar, known until the 1970s as Café Canasta.
The developers had aimed to create a $160 million, 12-storey office and commercial space.
The city was to expropriate the bar for the non-profit Angus Development Corporation.
However Cleopatre's owner Johnny Zoumboulakis resisted all offers to cede his building by persuasion or force.
The city decision will allow both sides to dodge a long and costly legal court battle, which was to start in September.
In 2009 the city consulted citizens on the project and many reacted negatively to the plan.
Petitions, videos and other means of support to save the building came from a variety of sources, including many in the local arts community who fought the proposed demolition of the hardscrabble institution..
Angus Development is now expected to create an alternate plan for the area around the building.