Fine Line owner threatens Warehouse District exit over safety issues

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June 14, 2004 // UPDATED 2:05 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Fine Line Music Cafe owner Dario Anselmo, who heads the Warehouse District Business Association, said recently that he would move his 318 1st Ave. N. nightclub to another part of Downtown or to the suburbs within six months if conditions fail to improve on 1st Avenue North.

A string of violent incidents, including the June 6 arrest of three Vikings players for allegedly beating a man unconscious outside of nightclub Tabu, 323 1st Ave. N., have left Anselmo frustrated and calling for stepped-up police action.

He blames his neighbors across the street -- Tabu and Daddy Rocks, 315 1st Ave. N. -- for attracting unruly crowds and gun-toting patrons. Management at the bars did not return phone calls for comment.

"In the last six months, we have had a number of 'shots fired' incidents, as well as at least one small riot. A customer and a family friend of mine had his car shot up in one of those incidents. All of this within 50 feet of our business," Anselmo wrote in a recent letter to Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Councilmember Natalie Johnson Lee (5th Ward).

"As you can imagine, I'm sick and tired of it. The people and businesses in the Warehouse District are just as exasperated. We need to figure out how to keep the

people in the Warehouse District safe," he continued.

Police have countered that there are enough cops on the streets to address

the problems. They also point out arrests were made within minutes of recent incidents, including the alleged June 6 beating outside Tabu and a June 4 shooting at 314 1st Ave. N.

The 1st Precinct headquarters at 19 N. 4th St. is just steps away from the nightclubs.

At a June 8 meeting of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association, Luther Krueger, a crime-prevention specialist for the 1st Precinct, said the cash-strapped Department is doing everything it can to address the problems in the bar district.

Police Chief Bill McManus has authorized about a dozen investigators to join night beat officers in patrolling the streets during bar close, Krueger said.

McManus is scheduled to meet with 1st Precinct bar owners Tuesday, June 15 at the Lodge Bar, 11 S. 5th St.

Further, the Warehouse District Business Association has paid for an additional police officer specifically assigned to the bar district, he said.

Police also say new Target-sponsored "SafeZone" cameras -- expected by summer's end, months later than expected -- will also improve security Downtown.

Assistant City Attorney Henry Reimer said Tabu also might be fined or temporarily closed because of alleged city code violations.

The city held a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) hearing in May about Tabu. Reimer would not say what was at issue at the hearing and said negotiations with bar management are ongoing.

In TAC hearings, city officials attempt to negotiate a compromise with business ownership over alleged problems. If the owner objects to city findings, the matter goes before an administrative law judge.

Along with McManus and 1st Precinct Insp. Rob Allen, Johnson Lee said she planned to write Tabu and Daddy Rocks management, urging them to crack down on violent bar patrons.

She said city officials are "committed to go strong and heavy" after any Downtown club owners that break the law. She said she wants to see all bar owners cooperate to keep the Warehouse District safe.

"It is on our radar; we're working together collectively," she said. "Downtown is a place for everyone to come, be respectful and have a good time. If you can't be respectful, you don't need to be Downtown."