Apr 15, 2024 - News

Atlanta revisits sex shop friction

Tokyo Valentino sells sex products at 1739 Cheshire Bridge Road. Photo: Wil Nobles/Axios

Tokyo Valentino sells NSFW items at Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta. Photo: Wil Nobles/Axios

A controversial sex shop is defending itself once again as Atlanta resumes efforts to shut it down.

Why it matters: Tokyo Valentino sells products at several stores around metro Atlanta. The city of Atlanta says Tokyo's Cheshire Bridge Road location also has illegal adult video booths and a sex club.

  • Neighbors say customers are having sex behind vacant buildings near Tokyo — in plain view of the adjacent apartments.

State of play: After years of court battles with the business, Atlanta issued Tokyo a cease-and-desist for allegedly facilitating sex "outside of the building within plain view of residential structures" when Tokyo "is not zoned to facilitate such activity."

  • Tokyo in February appealed to Atlanta's Board of Zoning Adjustment, claiming the city violated Tokyo's "due process," "equal protection" and First Amendment rights. The board denied the appeal.
  • Last month, city councilman Alex Wan, who represents the area where Tokyo is located, said in his newsletter he's anticipating Tokyo could take the city to court.

The other side: Tokyo owner Michael Morrison told Axios the onsite club doesn't serve alcohol and is a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community. He said that upsets "MAGA supporters."

  • Morrison said they've removed the video booths, and Tokyo's security prevents sexual activity.
  • "This will undoubtedly be solved in a federal court," Morrison said.

The intrigue: Morrison said the city is renewing pressure on him after last month's fatal shooting at the former Rhodes Bakery, a vacant building adjacent to Tokyo.

  • Morrison owns the building and wants to turn it into a $7 million massage spa, but Atlanta denied his permit application.

Wan said in his newsletter that Morrison might also sue Atlanta for denying the permit.

What they're saying: Tokyo marketing director Chris Coleman told Axios that homeless people are performing the acts residents witnessed.

  • "There's multiple other businesses on the road that are adult-themed and there's a crisis, a homeless population, on Cheshire Bridge Road," Coleman said.

The bottom line: Several adult entertainment businesses exist along Cheshire Bridge Road, including strip clubs, gay clubs and pornography shops. Neighborhood associations have spent years asking the city, to no avail, to remove them.

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