July 14, 2009

Differing visions raise questions about Sixth Street club

Thomas Holmes (right) appears during Monday's Public Safety and Licensing Committee meeting.

Alderman Jim Kaplan took a minute out of the Public Safety and Licensing Committee Monday night to give some business advice to the operator of Park 6 club on Sixth Street.

"Stop advertising," he told Thomas Holmes, who was called before the committee for complaints about his club. "It's having a negative impact on your business."

The advice came while the committee reviewed four police reports, all for fights, in or near the club in the last six months. A police officer was injured in one of the incidents after a private security officer responding to the fight forget to put his car in park and it rolled into the officer.

Committee members essentially told Holmes his club was too successful and he may want to consider moving out of its building at Sixth Street and Park Avenue. The club is drawing large crowds late on Friday and Saturday nights.

"It seems like you're a victim of your own success," said Alderman Aron Wisneski, chairman of the committee.

Holmes, who agreed to make changes to please the committee, offered a different vision for Sixth Street. He pointed to Brady Street in Milwaukee where night clubs, stores and condos coexist late into the night.

"That's my idea coming from Milwaukee," said Holmes, who envisioned people shopping in clothing stores until 10 at night and then stopping at clubs with live music throughout Downtown.

But Kaplan shared two letters from city residents who offered a different vision for Sixth Street. They suggested small, artisan shops on the street could prosper, but out-of-town business owners may be scared off by a rowdy night club.

Kaplan added that he warned the council about allowing a former furniture store - the building's last tenant - become a club. "I don't want to say, 'I told you so,'" he said.

Holmes, who appeared at the hearing with his attorney, agreed to install additional digital cameras and work on security. He also noted that he's now closing early at 1:30 a.m. (as opposed to 2:45 a.m.), which has helped control crowds.

Holmes said a change in the bar's crowd over the last four months has increased the security challenges. The first six months his place was open was a predominantly white crowd. But in recent months the crowd became predominantly African-American, Holmes said. He attributed the change to other bars closing and their patrons looking for a new place to hangout.

"As other establishments broke off, the African-American community turned out," Holmes said. "We saw the change."

Park 6 charges a $5 cover on Saturday nights, including $10 for anyone who leaves and wants to come back in. It's also turned down large parties - and thousands of dollars in business - because it was concerned about the crowd, Holmes said.

Wisneski also asked Holmes about food served in the bar. The original agreement with the city called for a restaurant, but Park 6 doesn't serve food.

Holmes said the original person he was working with to start the restaurant left. He now has a new partner, has installed all of the needed kitchen equipment and should be up and running by next Friday.

Following the meeting, which ended with a deal that Holmes would work with police and the city attorney's office on a written agreement, a Park 6 supporter told Holmes he may need to re-examine his approach to the bar.

"You're from Milwaukee," she said. "This isn't Milwaukee."


  1. This is annoying. here is someone who seems to be willing to work to turn 6th street into something more than boarded up storefronts, come-and-go businesses, and laundromats....and everyone wants to force him out rather than work with him to make things better.

    artisan shops my ass.

  2. Let's keep it real. The complaints about this organization are coming because the clientele is predominately black.

    Fear and misunderstanding of black folks by local business owners and downtowners results in more frequent calls to the police. This, in turn, results in more statistics about the problems surrounding that specific bar.

    These same things happen at other bars in the area, with predominately white clientele, but no one bothers to try to shut them down. If safety was the real concern of the local businesses and alderpersons then Trolloween and Downtown's Mardi Gras would have been shut down long ago.

    The real vision for downtown? Just look at the city council and the downtown leadership...predominately white with minorities having to fight for representation and a piece of the pie.

  3. Looks like he has a class operation that has some recent issues that they are willing to deal with. With the number of failures it good to see a successful business. Perhaps some of the other downtown Racine business owners could take lessons from him.

  4. Nice crowd - running over police officers. I've seen some of these people, it has nothing to do that most are black, it has to do that many of them are thugs.

  5. The guy is doing well. He is trying to work with the City. THe owner is right 6th st could be like Brady St in Milwaukee.
    But not if IMHO the DRC has anything to say about it.

  6. 'You're from Milwaukee," she said. "This isn't Milwaukee."

    What she did not say was and you are black wow

  7. Can't believe I agree with everything Colt had to say and I'm a liberal.

  8. No customers ran over the police officer..it was the security car that wasn't placed in park. I have been there, albeit last summer. It was and I believe still is a nice establishment. I hope the city works on this with them. I would like to see them remain successful.

  9. Once again, someone with a growing business should make concessions to businesses that do not yet exist and may never exist. If there is a thug problem, deal with it, but you can’t blame a security guy's lack of understanding of automotive transmissions on the thugs.

    The big questions are whether his business plan addresses green space and CO2 emissions. This should be addressed by the city council. Plus they should see if we need a new law that says that a business cannot be more than 10.97% more successful than any other business, be located within 14.34 feet of a fire hydrant, situated within 6.86 miles of any natural wetland and no closer than 1.88 miles to any large body of water

  10. BAHAHAHHA!!!I thought this was the supposed to be the SALSA CLUB! ALDERMEN you all got suckerd! Try doing some research! When your establishment is rap it turns to crap (i.e. the bank) C'mon pull your heads outta your asses people!

  11. I live a block or two from the place and watched it from the beginning (I dont drink, go to bars or clubs) and have to say the place was empty and had a mixed crown for the first couple of month but I did notice that on Friday and Saturday nights that quite a few blacks folks were in attendance, cool
    Nice interior space and all the storefront windows are kinda cool. It looks like mostly young folks and I see the obligatory cops working the door and with that many young folks and alcohol you are gonna have a problem, not if but when.
    Won't matter to me, I'm at home in bed when these places close.
    Surely just another flash in the pan and will be gone with the wind shortly. Like -the bricks- or -club chocolate- or -la terazza- or -the blueberries- or -wilburs-.
    Easy come, Easy go.
    Hopefully nobody gets hurt like that young girl who got shot and killed at the I.D.C.S. coupla years back.
    Or when that nut shot everyone in Ron's.

  12. Speaking of the Bank. I got a voice mail yesterday informing me about a license application for 1501 Washington and to come to the Public Safety and Licensing Committee meeting on the 27th or contact the area alderman Mike Shields with any concerns.

  13. Shut this dump down. This is one of those incidents where "we told you so" even before this place opened.

    It has everything to do with the clientele at this bar. Blacks can't act civilized and its time people stop denying that fact. White bars have been existance far longer with fewer problems. Just like a black can't be President without screwing up the country.

  14. Oh brother. Where to start?

    These council guys are genius. This guy is too successful? Really, Racine is in hard financial times yet, someone is too successful.

    They think we need/want more out of town owned artisan shops. (Define ghost town)Who in Racine is going to shop at these dozens of artisan shops? We need to cater to the people who live here, not those who come to visit once in a while and go back to their stately homes.

    The officer was injured by a security guard. This is the fault of the night club? Barney Fife did that.

    Pull your heads out of your butts and let someone operate a thriving business.

    We want young people to come and live here well they go to clubs. They don't go to artisan shops every weekend.

    Rap, Salsa who cares. We need life not a ghost town.

  15. This has nothing to do with race. There are many complaints against this club and calls to the police because of trouble. This place brews trouble.

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  17. Here is the real version....The police officer was struggling with the suspect as he was trying to take the suspect into custody and as he was doing so he grabbed the suspect and threw him into the car in the street. The car was still moving. This car was legally driving down 6th street very slowly and not responding to any fight call. As the car was driving by slowly all of sudden the officer and suspect went flying/slamming into the car driving by. They hit the back passenger side door and got their legs caught in the back tire. There was also another vehicle behind this vehicle. The officer and suspect created this accident. Or should I say the THUG created this freak accident. Good things know was hurt seriously. The Police department is not telling the true story of what really happened that night. The injured police officer was quickly given help by security officers on scene while

  18. Yup they are trying to shut down the places with the Africa-American Crowds because Rickys, Coasters, VRC, Blue Rock, Michigan Pub, Blind Aligator, All Sports, Days INN or whatever its called now and many many other bars have the same problems night in and night out...Lets see Rickys had a shooting a couple years ago, VRC has lots of big brawls during closing and etc...But because Rickys is a hang out for Off-Duty police officers, All-Sports owner treats officer to meals, VRC is owned by Former Officer and it can go on and on

  19. JJ McAuliffe7/15/2009 3:41 AM

    Hey Dustin, thank you for reporting on The Public Safety and Licensing committee meeting on Monday. I am not here to make comments on the many, many, ignorant comments being made by the bloggers ( ON BOTH SIDES). I do want to correct a few things in your article. Jim Kaplan did mention two letters he received, but he never once said it was from Sixth Street business owners. We all know how unfair and opinionated bloggers are. Lets not start a "I wonder who said that?" war, when in truth he never mentioned who wrote those letters. Even if it was a sixth street business person, Jim Kaplan is not the one to complain to. Sixth street is not his district.
    The biggest mistake though is you say the gentleman with Thomas Holmes is his attorney. That is not true. While his name escapes me, he is the actual owner of the business. Mr. Holmes is the manager of the business.

  20. Thanks, JJ. I fixed the attorney mention. On the Sixth St. business owners, I must have misheard. Fixed that, too.

  21. Don't worry JJ - I and many others wish you well and wouldn't come in your place if the drinks were free because of your opposition - that fell on receptive, ignorant ears by the way - to the convenience store project.

  22. anon 8:24 - I like JJ's on the square. Don't speak for me or others.

  23. Downtown Denizen7/15/2009 10:20 AM

    The owners of this club have every right to remain open and become as sucessful as they can. More power to them. It is their right and freedom of liberty to operate any legitimate business they see fit.

    On the flip-side, if the business' clientele are creating problems, then the owner has an obligation to work with the city to curtail such problems. It appears that this is being done in this case. However, it should fall to the owner to pay for these measures out of the business' own pocket (i.e. security cameras, additional police presence, etc.).

    There is an ordinance in Racine that any rental unit (apt., house, etc.) where there are 3 or more police calls within 30 days, the city can declare that location as a nuisance property and fine the owner for the actions of the tenants and, over time, eventually close it down. Why isn't this being considered for nuisance businesses as well?

    I don't think "race" per se is the issue here. It's the "class" of clientele that is being drawn to the club based on the atmosphere the club is offering. Ever been to a trashy redneck bar on a Saturday night? Not much different from black hip-hop bar. Drunks and thugs are drunks and thugs regardless of race. Want a better class of clientele? Institute a dress code or raise the price of drinks. There are solutions.

  24. JJ knows how to run a bar. He's never in trouble. I lived near a black bar, they are loud and obnoxious at closing. Prone to fights and screaming and loud boom boom cars and extremely rude to their neighbors and police. No, hostile to their neighbors.

  25. Anon 9:43 - I don't speak for you or those who agree with you, I speak for myself and those who agree with me. We won't support someone who thinks they are part of a club and get to exclude others. This is great if you can get away with it but realize that informed people make choices.

  26. The fact that bloggers associate bad behavior with being black is very telling about our city.

    Apparently, some of the bloggers don't really know any black people, they just watch black folks as they pass through neighborhoods or read about black folks in the paper. But -hey- if you want to base all of your understanding about an entire racial group on limited experience or interaction - that is most definitely your right. It's just too bad that doing so will limit your understanding of our community and the incredible people that live here.

    It is my firm belief that God has a desire for this city to be renewed with business, economic prosperity and famiy stability. I believe he has developed key influential leaders for just such a purpose - and that they are from every walk of life, from every race. Our city requires ALL of them in order to succeed. How will that happen if one or more groups are left out due to preconceptions about an entire racial group?

  27. I saw a t-shirt that said Racine is the "Hamptons of the Midwest". Nice vision, but far from it. Boarded up store fronts don't help.
    But a balanced environment where clubs coexist with antique shops is manageable. And it would be a huge draw - particularly in the summer.

    I suggest we help instead of hinder the success of outsiders who have the audacity to invest in Racine.

  28. There is a distinct difference between "bars" and major "clubs." The bars are usually smaller places where locals frequent, much like a pub, most everybody knows everyone else that goes there. The clubs are generally for entertainment purposes and draw a much larger crowd from a much larger area. Most, or many, of these people don't know each other or are from rival groups. This is where the problems precipitate. The police will tell you that they receive far fewer calls from neighborhood bars than they do from the larger clubs.

    Get on the same page about this if you're going to make intelligent remarks and quick comparing apples and oranges.

    To the idiot who thinks all black people don't know how to behave, what a racist! I suppose Rev. David King (running for an aldermanic position in Milwaukee and leader of the "God Squad"), David Clark (Sheriff of Milwaukee County), Q.A. Shakoor (a Racine alderman), Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Bill Cosby, and on and on, don't know how to act.

  29. Downtown Denizen7/15/2009 6:02 PM

    Sorry, that last post was from Downtown Denizen. Had a slip of the ol' keyboard there.

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  31. Before I say anything, I'll explain why this is personal to me. Most importantly, I'm biracial. Black and white, forget the details. I grew up here, I'm going to law school next year, and I'm coming back here when I'm done. This is my home and I have an interest in race relations in my home. Secondly, I live a block away from the establishment. If no one in this city but JJ and I care what happens on Sixth, so be it.

    I stand on my roof a lot, shaking my head because of the mass amount of empty buildings. In fact, I do it every single day. I know Alderman Kaplan personally (I know he is a great guy) and we had a had a nice discussion about this a few days ago. That being said, I'm looking for a bit more than artisan shops on this street. I live above the perfect place for an art gallery and I would love to live above an art gallery. If that's really what we needed, however, then an art gallery would be here right now.

    To Anon 5:28 and those who think alike: either you are inexperienced and uneducated as to make a comment like that, or you are just ignorant (to put it lightly). Do you suggest that black people, meaning those who descend from Africa, are genetically predisposed to be uncivilized? Do you suggest, that since I am half black, I will never be civilized? You are dead wrong. In fact, the only thing that angers me to the point where I actually think about becoming uncivilized is racist commentary like yours.

    You proposed that since this bar has a predominantly black clientele, it will then be less civilized than a
    "white bar". Let's take Blue Rock, an example of what I'm assuming one would call a "white bar". I do not want Blue Rock to leave. It's a neighbor. However, if I sit in my living room and Blue Rock has it's front window open, I can hear loud and clear every bloodcurdling scream in that bar. About two weeks ago, I heard a man threatening to shoot another man outside of Blue Rock. They were white. Either way, I didn't care much because the guy was too drunk to be able to aim well enough to hit anything (and that's assuming he was actually serious and had a gun). Furthermore, there are plenty of broken beer bottles outside my back door, and I guarantee you they are not from Park 6.

    I happened to be listening to the police scanner the other night and heard of a fistfight down the street from the club. I nearly applauded because instead of shooting at each other, these guys were using their hands. Regardless, anyone who wants to maliciously divide this city into "white bars" and "black bars" should come out with me Friday night and see that it's just not that simple.

    To Anon 8:14AM: I think I might walk down there and have a beer just to see if your boycott worked.

    To Anon 11:09AM: Very well put.

    To Dustin and Pete, thank you for the story and the ability to discuss it.

    As a side note, if anyone wants a friend that lives downtown, message me on facebook.com/racine.law or twitter.com/howeezy. Thanks!

  32. Anon 8:19 - the bottom line is there are good black people and good white people and there is white trash and the n word. No one wants any of these kind of people in any bar. From what I've seen of Blue Rock - that's primarily a white trash crowd. It started out ok, but has since gone down hill.

  33. It amazes me that JJ Mac is the only one that does not speak ignorantly. That is a real laugher!! I beleive he should get a grip on reality because it is coming.

  34. JJ McAuliffe7/29/2009 2:15 AM

    What does that last comment mean???
    How does pointing out a inaccuracy in the story make me have to get a grip on reality? Speaking of a laugh er, did you actually read your comment before you posted it?
    And are you threatening me??
    At least I have the balls to post who I am you chicken %$#&!