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Public's help needed to block strip club sale

This column serves as a call to public activism.

The owners of the former Black Cat Cantina, a once popular restaurant in Rockwood near the intersection of East Burnside Street and Southeast Stark Street, have signaled their intent to convert the building to a strip club unless the current lease holder is able to complete a purchase of the property by Jan. 1, 2016.

A strip club would do nothing to lift Rockwood from the malaise of urban blight, or to help people rise above the clutches of poverty.

In short, a sincere effort is needed to help the current lease holder — the Rockwood Community Development Corporation — make good on its ambitious plan of converting the former Black Cat Cantina into a space that serves the community.

The CDC envisions the building as a place where nonprofit organizations lease office space, and where people go for meetings, events and activities.

And the CDC sees the place as a complement to the city owned catalyst site, directly across the street where Fred Meyer once stood. Through public-private partnerships, the city hopes to bring thriving development and jobs to the catalyst site, which in turn will lead to other positive development for the neighborhood.

In order for the CDC to make good on its dream at the cantina building, its going to need help. And it’s going to need that help to arrive quickly.

The CDC needs $1.4 million to complete a purchase of the property. With money in short supply, the CDC has no choice but to take out loans.

The Gresham Redevelopment Commission, a component of the city of Gresham, is considering a $400,000 loan. But that would leave another $1 million needed to seal the deal.

In order to finalize that loan, the CDC will need tenants, demonstrating the ability to make good on the debt.

That’s were community activists are needed.

The CDC is recruiting socially minded folks to step forward, those who would be interested in leasing space in the building.

And the CDC needs financial assistance: Every dollar donated through its website (www.rockwoodcdc.org) is one dollar that will help reduce the mortgage amount.

At a time when a brighter future for Rockwood is just out of reach, the last thing the neighborhood needs is a strip club to locate square in the heart of the area targeted for improvement.

For the good of our neighbors in Rockwood, we hope you take the opportunity to make a financial contribution. We hope you let your contribution say “no” to a strip club, and “yes” to a better tomorrow in Rockwood.

Steven Brown is executive editor of The Outlook, Sandy Post and Estacada News.