"This just goes to underscore why we are here," Bosley announced. "These are a series of charges that are unfounded, based on insinuation and innuendo."

The city forged ahead with its case. Several other blue shirts took the podium and complained that the valet and barbecue stands outside the club cause congestion. The defense attorneys hastened to point out that the valet company is owned by a policeman, and the food stand (which has no affiliation with Lure) caters to all pedestrians on the strip.

Officer David Pryor observed that Lure patrons like to show off their vehicles and make several trips around the block, worsening congestion.

Aprille Trupiano, 43, owns Lure. Her younger brother, Nick, helps manage it.
Jennifer Silverberg
Aprille Trupiano, 43, owns Lure. Her younger brother, Nick, helps manage it.
The Washington Avenue strip on a Saturday night.
Jason Stoff
The Washington Avenue strip on a Saturday night.

"So they're driving up and down the strip?" Bouhasin asked Pryor. "This is what we want there, an entertainment district, is that correct?"

"That's what the city wants, yes," Pryor answered.

After the lunch recess, a small band of loft-dwellers vented their frustrations with Lure.

"I should not have to sleep in my $300,000 loft and be awoken by patrons who are drunk walking out of the bar," railed Jennifer Gray, who has since moved to south city. She lived across from Lure for two years. She recalled one night when a fire truck, sirens blaring, had to swerve to avoid smashing into drunken revelers who'd had imbibed too much at Lure.

Bouhasin: You're assuming this, but you don't know how many drinks these people had.

Gray: I've been in their bar.

Bouhasin: Have you ever been removed from their bar?

Gray: No...[but] I have been in their other clubs where I have been more than drunk. And should not have been served.

Bouhasin: So this isn't just about club Lure. This is about the Trupianos.

Gray: This is about their responsibility as business owners and their management practices.

Jennifer Asher, Earl Westfall's girlfriend, also took the stand. She said that the night she moved in blood was smeared across the lobby door from a fight in the club. Since then, Lure patrons have broken lobby furniture, she claimed, adding that the club's bouncers have threatened her and Westfall. Smoke from the club rises through the elevator shaft and into her daughter's bedroom, and she has hounded the club to buy smoke-eating equipment. They have not yet done so.

Under questioning by Bosley, however, Asher admitted that when Lure management posted flyers around the neighborhood calling for a safety meeting, she tore some of them down. She also confirmed that she'd had a heated exchange with Tony Trupiano upon entering the 12th Street Diner with her daughter a few days earlier.

"Did you give him the finger?" Bosley asked.

"Yes, I did," she said. "Is that a crime?"

Not all loft-dwellers spoke ill of Lure. Ollie Green, an African American law student at Saint Louis University, said the increased number of people on the streets is precisely why she feels safer walking her dog. More people, she argued, equals more patrolmen.

Arsalan Suhail, a business consultant who moved across the street from Lure in May, took an interest in neighborhood safety after being the victim of a hate crime: An ethnic Pakistani, he got his jaw severely broken by a gang in of skinheads near America's Center last November. He refused to be cowed by the experience and instead feels as drawn to the hustle-bustle that Lure generates.

"It offers nothing but a safe haven for those who enjoy music and beats, and who happen to have a good time with good-looking individuals," he said. "And those scantily clad women — with all due respect your honor...I'll put some ellipses after that."

The only person from city government to weigh in at the hearing was Alderwoman April Ford-Griffin of the fifth ward. Grifiin testified that she considers Lure an asset that would be even more valuable.

She echoed the Trupianos' plea for equal treatment: "We have to treat everybody the same. It seems like the focus has drifted to one place, and we've stopped talking about the bigger picture."

At the hearing, no one brought up the fact that the Trupianos, their landlord and Bosley have all contributed to Ford-Griffin's campaign. Nor did anyone mention that Judge Walsh, who was deciding the case, was appointed by Mayor Slay and has made a campaign contribution to him.

Ford-Griffin continued: "I'm concerned that some of these issues come up because we've created an entertainment district, and we do not have a public-safety plan in place. There are some issues the city has to bear some responsibility for."

On September 20 Judge Walsh ruled to revoke Lure's liquor license, concluding that "violence, intimidation, noise and disturbances" indeed took place near Lure and were "precipitated by its patrons." The Trupianos are filing an appeal, which will likely be heard in the 22nd circuit court.

In the long run, the future of Washington Avenue is unclear. Now that well-heeled residents have moved in, can they coexist with the neighborhood's hopping club scene? Will the clubs have to adapt — or, eventually, will they be forced to move elsewhere?

Bob Kraiberg predicts that the tension on Washington Avenue will work itself out through the democratic process. Getting a liquor license requires "the magnanimity" of nearby stakeholders, he says.

« Previous Page
Next Page »