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Sale of iconic
California gay bar spurs concern for its future

Sale of iconic
California gay bar spurs concern for its future

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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