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A tavern, a strip club " and now what?

After closing its doors, Gems owners put former business up for lease

City leaders haven’t received any calls or emails from Hillsboro citizens about what should go into a temporarily-vacant building that formerly housed a strip club on Southeast Tualatin Valley Highway.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in what transpires in the space, which is zoned for general commercial use.

“It isn’t our place, but if we were contacted, we would encourage other uses that are more compatible with the surrounding area — such as a tavern without the entertainment,” Patrick Preston, public affairs manager for the city, said Monday.

When Gems Gentlemen’s Club opened last October, replacing The Cooler Club tavern, a handful of nearby residents upset over strippers in their neighborhood went so far as to present petitions opposing the business model to the city council.

But the city’s legal options were limited due to Oregon Supreme Court rulings on free-speech provisions protecting nude dancing.

Mayor Jerry Willey pledged to keep close track of the business, thought to be the first adult strip club in the city limits in the last quarter-century. But after its owner, Frank Hurliman — who also owned The Cooler Club — died June 10 at age 82, Gems closed its doors.

The shuttered business, at 1735 S.W. TV Highway, isn’t for sale, but it’s available for lease.

Realtor Dean Wier, a senior broker with Norris & Stevens Inc., has the property listing. He said Friday that Hurliman’s surviving family members are “entertaining a variety of offers right now for a variety of [building] uses.”

They don’t want to sell, Wier said, “but they don’t want to run it themselves.”

Located next to Bikini Coffee, a bikini-barista stand, and near The Gym-Nest, a gymnastics and cheerleading school primarily serving children and teens, the building contains 6,724 square feet.

Lt. Michael Rouches, spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department, said last August that The Cooler Club was once the scene of frequent fights that sometimes required police attention. Online reviews prior to Gems’ opening suggested the tavern had varied its entertainment over the years in order to attract new customers.

Karaoke, hip-hop shows and Mexican bands were popular draws to The Cooler Club, which operated for more than 30 years.

For Wier, finding a lessee is a straight-up business proposition. A sign outside the building calls it a “turn-key” business.

“The family’s got a vacant club/bar/restaurant they aren’t interested in operating,” he said. “There are lots of possibilities — we’re getting a lot of attention.”

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