Mysterious ‘gentleman’s Club’ Sign Confounds City, Neighbors

June 22, 2016 GMT

Whether an attention-getting marketing scheme, a poorly conceived joke or trademark infringement, the sign reading “Coming Soon: Delilah’s Gentlemen’s Club” probably does not signal a return of nude dancing to Lackawanna Avenue.

The large sign went up in the window at 534 Lackawanna Ave. in downtown Scranton over the weekend and certainly caught the attention of the other businesses on the block and passers-by.

Attempts to reach the owner of 534 Lackawanna Ave., Michael Conflitti, were unsuccessful Monday and Tuesday.

A few curious or worried citizens called Scranton City Hall. Zoning Officer Jack Sweeney posted a note on the property Tuesday asking the owner to contact his office, reminding them that there are procedures. As of end of the day Tuesday, no one replied.

“We haven’t heard anything so we don’t know what, if anything, is happening,” Mr. Sweeney said. “All we know is that there is a sign in the window.”

The building recently housed Arts Seen Gallery Co-op and Cafe, which closed at the end of May, and shares a wall with structures that are part of the Renaissance at 500, a separate property and a historic redevelopment project owned by Don Rinaldi.

Mr. Rinaldi did not return phone calls about the matter.

Opening an adult nightclub, which falls under the category of adult-oriented business or AOB, would be a tall order in that part of Scranton. While zoned commercial-downtown, AOB would require a special exemption from the city zoning board. Neither the city nor the board received any application, city officials noted.

That location presents other complications.

Such a business would have to include parking based on square footage and the site offers no parking. Adult businesses can not be near “sensitive areas” such as residences or schools. The Renaissance at 500 has condos and apartments on the same block.

Mr. Sweeney grew up on Lackawanna Avenue and recalls as many as three adult nightclubs on the once-notorious thoroughfare. But any “grandfathering” of those uses died with the businesses; they don’t transfer with the property. Besides, he noted, 534 Lackawanna never hosted such a use.

There actually is a Delilah’s Gentlemen’s Club in Philadelphia. General manager Jeff Levy said he is concerned about the sign since Delilah’s has nothing to do with any projects in Scranton. He is worried about possible trademark infringement.

“We own that name so that would be trademark infringement,” Mr. Levy said. “In Pennsylvania and up and down the East Coast, Delilah’s is the gold standard, known for quality entertainment and exceptional food.”

Mr. Levy is also the executive director of the Pennsylvania Hospitality & Entertainment Association, a trade group protecting the interest of the adult nightclub industry. He checked out 534 Lackawanna Avenue through Google Maps Street View and said he couldn’t imagine how an adult club would be approved for the site.

“Just about every municipality has sensitive receptor setback laws, not to mention parking requirements based on square footage,” he said. “That’s why adult clubs are restricted to industrial or similar zones.”

Contact the writer: dfalchek@timesshamrock.com