Sale of iconic California gay bar spurs concern for its future

BY admin

November 09 2005 1:00 AM ET

The sale of the
Boom Boom Room in Laguna Beach, Calif., to a Beverly
Hills billionaire has sparked concern for the future of the
longtime gathering spot for the town's gay residents.
"It has a lot of history, and it has a great
deal of meaning for the gay community in Laguna Beach
and in Southern California," said Bob Gentry, Orange
County's first openly gay politician, who was a mayor and
councilman in Laguna Beach from 1982 to 1994. "It's an
important milestone."
The dance club has been a premier fixture on the
county's gay scene for decades, featuring weekly drag
shows and sightings of celebrities such as Rock
Hudson. Emerald Financial LLC, a company owned by aircraft
lease magnate Steven Udvar-Hazy, bought the property
and an adjacent 24-room inn in October for almost $13
million, said Scott Hook, a senior investment
associate with Marcus and Millichap's Newport Beach office,
which represented the sellers.
Representatives for Udvar-Hazy—whose
estimated $2.4 billion in assets ranks him 258th on
the Forbes list of wealthiest
people—declined to say what might be done with the
property when the Boom Boom Room's lease expires at
the end of April.
Joe Smith of Monarch Beach Realty would say only
that his client is meeting with an architect this
week. "Obviously, people are trying to enrich the
property," Smith said. But "the Coastal Commission and
the city of Laguna Beach are probably two of the more
stringent agencies you can find anywhere in California."
A Boom Boom Room employee said the business has
been fielding dozens of daily calls asking about its
fate. "You knew no one in that bar was going to harm
you psychologically or physically, because you were all
there with like interest," Gentry said. "You were all there
as oppressed gay people trying to have a good time,
and we were and we did." (AP)

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