October 19, 2017 at 11:16 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay nightclub appeals for help with ‘crumbling’ streets
Ziegfeld's Secrets, potholes, gay news, Washington Blade

The owner of Ziegfeld’s-Secrets has appealed to city officials for help with ‘crumbling’ streets around the nightclub. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. gay nightclub Ziegfeld’s-Secrets has taken the unusual step of using its promotional website and email advertising to appeal to Mayor Muriel Bowser for help in fixing what it says are crumbling city streets its customers must drive through to reach the club.

The club is located at 1824 Half St., S.W., in the city’s Buzzard Point section a few blocks from where a new stadium for the D.C. United soccer team is being built.

Heavy construction equipment like bulldozers and large trucks have come to the area for the stadium construction and may be the source of the road problems, according to a spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Transportation, which is in charge of maintaining city streets.

But Ziegfeld’s-Secrets employees and customers say the three-block section of Half Street leading to the club has been riddled with deep and potentially vehicle damaging potholes beginning more than two years before construction began on the stadium.

“Mayor Bowser & ABRA, our business continues to crumble, just as the streets our patrons have to drive upon to our business,” the club stated in a Sept. 28 ad that also promoted its popular drag shows and nude male dancers.

ABRA stands for the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration that oversees businesses that sell alcoholic beverages.

In an ad posted Sept. 21 on the club’s website and delivered to customers on its email list, the club stated, “Dear Mayor Bowser, your Stadium is still DESTROYING our business due to the detour and road conditions! RESPONSE? ANYTHING?”

Ziegfeld’s-Secrets’ general manager Steven Delurba said he and the club’s owner, Allen Carroll, were encouraged last week when Sheila Alexander-Reid, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, contacted them by phone and invited them to meet with her to discuss their concerns. Delurba said Carroll was expected to go to the meeting set for early next week.

“It’s really not fair that our customers have to drive through an obstacle course to come here,” Delurba told the Washington Blade in February, when the section of Half Street leading to the club appeared to be in the worst shape ever with potholes.

Carroll said he and his team of employees and entertainers as well as regular customers were startled to discover while driving to the club one night in late August that the city had closed that section of Half Street completely for an apparent full makeover without giving the club any advance notice.

A long, circuitous detour had been put in place by transportation department officials and construction crews that Ziegfeld’s-Secrets’ employees and customers would have to take until Half Street could be reopened, according to Delurba and Carroll.

Fearing that customers seeing the closed street would think the club had also closed, Delurba said he taped a makeshift sign he made to the cement barrier blocking the entrance to Half Street that said “Ziegfeld’s-Secrets Open!”

Many of the streets along the detour route, which passes next to the stadium construction site, are also riddled with multiple bumps and potholes, Carroll and Delurba said, adding to the inconvenience their customers encounter every time they visit the club.

In a visit by the Blade two weeks ago to the section of Half Street currently closed, it could be seen that new sidewalks and curbs were being installed and upscale street lamps were being placed along the newly installed sidewalks.

Delurba and Carroll said they were hopeful that a nicely redone Half Street would be reopened by December as one of the construction workers told a club employee a few weeks ago.

But Terry Owens, a spokesperson for the transportation department, known as DDOT, and Joia Nuri, a spokesperson for the D.C.  Department of General Services, which oversees city contracts for street repairs, each said they could not immediately determine when the section of Half Street leading to Ziegfeld’s-Secrets would reopen.

Delurba said he and Carroll were hopeful that Alexander-Reid could intervene on the club’s behalf with the mayor and DDOT, which is now headed by gay Interim Director Jeff Marootian.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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