Friday, June 5, 2009

Montreal's Red-Light District Going Dark

The Café Cleopatra strip club on St. Laurent is one of the last businesses in Montreal's once busy red-light district. John Mahoney/Canwest News Service

From The National Post:

MONTREAL -- With its sign promising "strip-teaseuses " and "danseuses à go-go," Café Cleopatra is one of the last vestiges of what was once a bustling red-light district on St-Laurent Boulevard, Montreal's Main. Now, most of the storefronts on the block are boarded-up, and if a city-backed developer gets its way, the red light will soon flicker out. Cleopatra's strippers and drag queens will make way for office workers.

Demolition is slated to start in January, clearing the ground for a 12-storey office complex and trendy street-level shops. The building facades, dating back to the late 1890s, will be preserved, but little else will remain of what once defined the street. Johnny Zoumboulakis, owner of the Cleopatra, has been told his land will be expropriated by the city if he refuses to sell to the developer, and he is not happy. "Do we connect with our past and our history, or do we just bulldoze it down and keep the facade, and everything is forgotten?" he asked in an interview.

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