Legislation aims to force two Indy adult boutiques to relocate

Hustler Hollywood on the northside of Indianapolis faced legal battles that stemmed from concerns of the location next to a Chuck E. Cheese. (IBJ photo/Leslie Bonilla)

Two adult boutiques that faced community backlash and legal battles with the city of Indianapolis have prompted state lawmakers to propose legislation that would create statewide restrictions on where sexually-oriented businesses can locate.

House Bill 1122 would prohibit a registered sexually-oriented business, such as an adult bookstore, sex toy shop or strip club, from operating within 1,000 feet of a facility that caters to minors. That includes schools, daycares, a YMCA, public swimming pools and playgrounds, as well as businesses such as arcades and trampoline parks.

The House approved the measure this week by a vote of 84-8, sending it to the Senate for further consideration.

The bill would also give a more detailed description of what Indiana considers “sexually explicit materials” that would deem a business as “sexually-oriented.”

The two Marion County legislators who authored the legislation told IBJ that the measure was primarily prompted by two adult-themed boutiques that have located in their districts.

Hustler Hollywood is in the Castleton area of the legislative district represented by Democrat Rep. Carey Hamilton and opened on 82nd Street across a parking lot from Chuck E. Cheese.

Lion’s Den in Southport is in Republican Rep. Mike Speedy’s district and located near a SkyZone trampoline park.

Hustler Hollywood opened in December after five years of legal battles over the city’s zoning laws.

City officials initially said the store qualified as an adult entertainment business, which was not allowed under the area’s neighborhood commercial zoning designation. Indianapolis already prohibits sexually oriented businesses within 1,000 feet of a religious institution, school, public park, recreation area or any residentially zoned area.

Hustler Hollywood’s attorneys argued that the store did not meet the definitions of an adult entertainment business because it were neither an adult bookstore nor an adult services establishment under city code. The city defines an adult bookstore as a business that dedicates 25% or more of its inventory to adult products.

Hustler Hollywood’s representatives said at the time that no more than 10% of its inventory would be those adult products. But more than 45% of inventory was described as either “general merchandise” or “toys,” not adult products, according to an article in the Indy Star in 2018.

HB 1122 could put Hustler Hollywood in a position where it would have to relocate, not only because it is less than 500 feet away from a children’s restaurant, but also because the bill would redefine what materials qualify as a sexually-oriented business.

HB 1122 would define “sexually-oriented businesses” as adult bookstores, adult arcades, adult cabarets, an adult theatre or a sexual device shop. It goes on to describe of what kind of materials the store would have to sell to be deemed a “sexually-oriented business.”

The bill gives a detailed description of what qualifies as a sex toy and says that any store that has more than 100 regularly made available for sale, or has any amount regularly on display, such as on separate lighted displays or in a dedicated area of the shop, qualifies as a “sexual device shop.”

Hustler Hollywood did not respond to IBJ’s requests for comment on the legislation. The company also did not attend public testimony on the bill last week.

If HB 1122 becomes law, businesses in violation would have until 2025 to relocate. Hamilton said that would include Hustler Hollywood.

“They will have to move,” Hamilton said. “It gives them plenty of time to leave the property and kind of and find a place that’s more suitable. I think it’s a societal norm that we don’t have these sorts of facilities next to child-directed businesses or facilities.”

While many communities already have restrictions on sexually-oriented businesses, Speedy said no local ordinance in the state has the language restricting locations near businesses that cater to minors.

The bill is also meant to help locales that don’t have regulations in place and are surprised when a new business moves in.

Speedy said he objects to the Lion’s Den adult store in his district because it is located near a Sky Zone trampoline park. He added this was one example that made him aware of this issue that other communities could face, or may be already facing.

The Lion’s Den opened last year and was allowed under the commercial zoning in that area. But it faced community backlash and citizen petitions opposing the business.

The store tried to seek a zoning variance in September for a freestanding monument sign but was denied because city code allows adult businesses to have only one wall sign. The Lion’s Den is now suing the city of Indianapolis, claiming that the city rule violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. It is also fighting with the city to keep the phrase, “Passion. Pleasure. Romance” on its wall sign.

The Lion’s Den is just within the legislation’s 1,000-foot threshold from the closest property line of Sky Zone, and Speedy is ready for the business to go. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The 1,000-foot separation rule is one that that industry is very familiar with,” Speedy said. “It’s simply my goal, using existing values, existing standards to protect local neighborhoods.”

The city of Indianapolis expressed support when the bill passed out of committee last week.

Ryan Mann, special counsel to Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, had said the legislation would add to the city ordinance and provide clarity moving forward.

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20 thoughts on “Legislation aims to force two Indy adult boutiques to relocate

  1. Waste of time, I don’t think they allow kids in their stores and not sure if they can retroactively engage in changing zoning or regulations to get rid of a business.

    1. Wow – that’s sad. So we have digressed and we might as well accept that. What a horrible way of thinking. Perhaps we should get back to the morals and values we held dear in 1980 and before.

    2. MG, what planet are you from? Adult stores have been in Indy for at 40+ years (longer if you count bookstores and adult film theaters). And, today with the Internet, anyone who wants to look at adult material can easily get it on line. These stores mostly sell sexy lingerie and adult toys—if an adult is interested in that stuff it is NONE of my business or your business. Instead of being a sad busybody, focus on your own life. This legislation is a waste of time and taxpayer resources, and only sets the state up for a legal challenge under the First Amendment.

  2. It is not at all appropriate for such a business to be located anywhere near an entity catering to children. Chuck E. Cheese has been in that same location for many years. Time does not change ethics and morals and the year 2025 is not soon enough to demand this Hustler club to close or move to anywhere but near a children’s place of operation. If this is allowed, you all can say so long to Castleton as it will soon look like Pendleton Pike.

    1. How would a child access this store? Under the First Amendment, you cannot use a pretense of “protecting children” to restrict adults from accessing material they can legally access. It is so easy now with the Internet for children to freely access FAR more shocking and graphic material, and instead buffoons in the General Assembly are worried about sexy lingerie and adult toys. They are just setting the state up to get sued and LOSING in court. This is a complete waste of taxpayer resources.

  3. I am not fan of these types of businesses, but I’m also live-and-let-live.

    I’m not a lawyer, but let’s play along until one comes along. This seems like a constructive forcible taking of property under eminent domain. As such, the state should be required to compensate the operators of these businesses for the diminished value if they own the property and are forced to sell, or to fix it up and re-rent to someone else. And the expenses of moving, etc. The fact that it doesn’t take effect for three years doesn’t change the fact it’s a slow-motion taking.

    If the business owner rents, what are they supposed to do if they are obligated under the lease beyond 12/31/2024? Again, the state should have to make their landlord whole, not make the renter pay for a building they can no longer occupy. Or if they have an option to extend the lease, same issue. If the lease ends before 2025, then I suppose there is only a moderate impact as to the expense of relocation.

    1. If you are being the one forced out, I can see how the state should compensate you.

      If you are a neighboring property owner, proving loss of value can be hard. Most likely what happens is when a lease expires, it takes longer to find a replacement tenant, and or you can’t up the rate.

  4. I would like to hear and know how many incidences have occurred near or outside of these stores, that makes it too dangerous for locating near establishments that cater to children? Seems like another solution looking for a problem. Most police calls for trouble and violence are usually to bars and clubs, not adult oriented retail stores. I think the zoning laws of Indianapolis already require 500 feet of separation. Not sure if we have state zoning or land use laws? This all seems like another holier-than-thou episode.

    1. Not sure what’s wrong with being “holier than thou” when it comes to keeping young children from being exposed to such things. Why do we want to degrade society in such a manner? None of us should be exposed to such things frankly – this world has gone to heck. Yes, we all have free choices in the free market but that doesn’t mean we are making good and moral ones. Pretty sure no one wants to argue that God approves – even if it is our free will to do such things.

  5. The zoning code documents the types of crimes that statistically follow these types of establishments, as documented by crime stslts throughout the city and state. Lion’s Den is close to not only SkyZone but also a day care, Cracker Barrel is next door and my sub-division is right behind it. We don’t want those crimes happening literally in our back yards. Would you?

    1. What crimes are tied specifically to the store as opposed to the general crime that pretty much happens over most of Marion County, aside from the pockets of affluence? General statistics are not enough, you have to show actual direct connections, not just assumptions. And, you cannot use a pretense of “protecting the children” to keep adults from accessing material they have a legal right to access.

  6. Kevin’s quote:
    “I would like to hear and know how many incidences have occurred near or outside of these stores, that makes it too dangerous for locating near establishments that cater to children?”

    Do you really believe the issue at hand, as it relates to children, is what danger is going to occur inside or outside the establishment is what’s in question?

  7. Donald O: I drive 82nd Street every day and witness it’s decline. The street is just plain trashy, no building set back rules, deteriorated landscapes, boarded up buildings, ugly signs, old poles and loose wires, not to mention the crime and mall mobs. It doesn’t have to be this way but it is. All shall cause our property values to tank.

    1. It’s going to be this way as long as we keep building out further and further, with more retail to support it. Castleton mall and the strip malls nearby are now 50+ years old. Even though incomes nearby are high (except for a few tawdry apartment complexes), the silver is tarnished. It’s just not as desirable for an REI or Talbots when newer, fresher shopping centers are just a mile or two away.

      As for the old poles, ugly signs, loose wires, lack of setbacks, um yeah those have been there since the get-go. And was it ever really a pretty area?

      Not saying you’re entirely wrong, but you might be a little off base with the “doesn’t have to be this way”–it was never engineered to be aesthetic. It was always all about convenience.

  8. Are they going to make Walmart & Targets remove their adult toys as well? Are they too close to the children’s toys? Your kids have more access to sexual content on their phones, iPads, and televisions than they can access in these stores.

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