1618-A: Open For Business

by Borderstan.com October 6, 2009 at 9:54 am 2,092 10 Comments

1618-A 14th Street NW: On Monday night the police tape was gone and the front gate unlocked. (Photo: Luis Gomez Photos)

1618-A 14th Street NW: On Monday night the police tape was gone and the front gate was unlocked. The club is open for business again. (Photo: Luis Gomez Photos)

On our bedtime walk-with-the-dog, we went by 1618-A 14th Street NW, site of the early Sunday morning death of a patron at the location’s private club. The police tape was gone and the gate was unlocked.

After taking a gander at the building’s front, we headed down the 1400-block of Corcoran. There is an iron security gate on the Corcoran side of the building  and you can easily look into the back “garden” area of 1618. We heard a door open and saw light coming from the building. A guy stepped into the back area. I asked him if they were open for business. “Yes,” was the response.

I have no issue at all with the club’s purpose. I am interested in how the poor man died and whether there are safety issues related to the venue. I know people who live close to 1618 and they have had issues with the club’s operations, e.g., trash, parking and safety (remember the 2005 fire). Their issues have not been related to the building housing a private private sex club. (Readers of my original Sunday posting have asked their own questions in the comments section.)

We live in a neighborhood where residents and elected officials spend untold hours agonizing over what small businesses may or may not do. And remember the panicked cries for help in Dupont Circle and the packed ANC 2B meeting when the cast and crew of Real World were coming to town?

But, a man dies in an establishment–with the full details still unknown to the public–and it is open in about a day. What gives, people? A man is dead. Hello ANC 2F? Hello, DCRA?

  • Deep Throat

    Hmm, there is “an iron security gate on the Corcoran side of the building”?

    So, fire in June 2005, FEMS finds no exits except the front door (according to MetroWeekly and Washington Blade coverage) and says they intend to refer the matter to DCRA. Even if this place did create a second/rear exit, would patrons escaping a fire be blocked by the security gate, caged into a very small rear yard next to an old burning building? Is it kept locked, or unlocked, during business hours? And while the healthier patrons could arguably scramble over a fence or wall, what about everyone else? (And let’s not even get started on ADA).

    Does this place have code-compliant emergency egress today, or not? It’s well beyond the theoretical, given they had a fire, and it’s been half a decade since they were made aware of these issues.

    “Hello, DCRA?” indeed.

  • Deep Throat

    The Washington Blade just posted a story on this, and the story only gets more disturbing. The man was bleeding from the head, and staff tried to help him before calling 911. Are they all registered nurses or something? How long before they called 911? Was it even them, or a concerned patron?


  • Avi

    I’m curious how a building that had a fire could be re-opened without some sort of basic safety inspection by the fire department.

    Totally caring less about what type of commercial/private activity was occurring inside, how under the radar could a place that has had both (a) a fire and (b) a death be to go inspected by SOMEONE before being allowed to re-open and resume operations. I used to direct a synagogue, and the second time we were found in violation of a minor fire code issue, we were shut down until the problem was fixed.

    Just sayin’…even application of zoning laws is really, really important.

  • ODB

    Um, has anyone bothered to check on the status of the building? If this is private residence that happens to be the site of gatherings for a recreational club, one would not think any inspection is required to allow operations to continue. I’m not following this that closely, so I have no answer, but it’s apparent that those who are following this consistently note that they don’t care about what activities are going on inside, yet the focus is usually what’s on what’s going on inside. If you’re concerned about safety, focus on the legal status of the property and its operations and leave it at that.

    • mattyillini

      ODB: First, this is an urban neighborhood. Fires are serious business when commercial properties and residences either touch each other or are only a few feet apart. Second, a man DIED. Imagine the uproar if someone had fallen down the steps of a restaurant. I truly don’t give a rat’s ass about the fact that it is a sex club. However, I do know that neighbors of 1618 have had problems for years with the property. To my knowledge, no one has ever tried to shut the place down.

  • ODB

    I guess that’s my point. Restaurants have fires all the time. People occasionally fall down stairs and die in restaurants. Regardless of whether there would be an uproar if this happened – and I’m not sure there would be – restaurants are public businesses, they operate on zoned properties. As far as I can tell, none of the jurisdictional or public concerns that would be relevant to restaurants impact this property. Granted, fires happen at private residences too and are still a concern, but it would still be civil concern. So the question is, what is there to “shut down”?

  • Deep Throat

    ODB: Read the Blade article.

    The owner talked about his “employees.”

  • wif

    Just because your peeping-Tom own an apt# in the hood doesn’t mean you own the community. Stop your homophbia and stop ganging upon Men’s Party.

    If you are really “WE the people”, take a look at Jim Grham’s dirty laundry.

  • ODB

    Deep Throat: Read the first sentence of the article. Both points are equally meaningful to this discussion: no one seems to have any idea about the status of this property.

    My only point here is to encourage those who are covering and commenting on this incident to err on the side of prudence, patience, and respect for the privacy of those involved.

  • Deep Throat

    I’m unclear on how demanding a business operate more safely invades anyone’s privacy. A fire in ’05, unclear remediation of Fire Marshal’s concern, and now a questionable death…I’ll gladly dispense with patience, and feel such questions actually are on the side of prudence, which is defined as “acting with or showing care and thought for the future.”


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