The Real Deal New York

One more Chelsea liquor license risks “sex district,” says condo board prez

December 31, 2013 01:50PM

An impending liquor license for Splash Sexy Boutique, a Chelsea sex shop with a cafe and planned upstairs bar, has residents gathered in protest.

Area residents reportedly fear that 155 Eighth Avenue, located at West 18th Street, will turn into a sleazy Times Square throwback, and plan to protest the shop’s application at a Community Board 4 committee meeting on Jan. 14.

“There are already a concentration of businesses on Eighth Avenue that are magnets for prostitution,” Ethan Felson, president of an unnamed Chelsea condominium association, told DNAinfo. “Adding yet another and giving that one a liquor license puts us at risk for reaching that tipping point where Eighth Avenue is no longer a desirable commercial district, but rather a sex district.”

Splash Sexy’s owner, Dumesh Kankanamalage, who also owns Rainbow Station at 207 Eighth Avenue and West 21st Street, and online toy shop websites, told DNAinfo that he plans to work with his neighbors.

“I don’t understand on what grounds neighbors are concerned about prostitution coming,” he told DNAinfo. “If the concerned parties could show me specific ways how my business would bring prostitution to the neighborhood, I would immediately attend to them and do my best to address concerns.”

Prostitutes occasionally linger outside Eighth Avenue sex shops and solicit clients there, a police source told DNAinfo, and the shop’s neighbors told DNAinfo that Kankanamalage will only alleviate their concerns if the liquor license application and bar plan are dropped completely. [DNAinfo]Julie Strickland