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Charlie Bear closed because of safety and security issues

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Charlie Bear: Land of Dance, a dance club that was located in the South Campus Gateway, has relocated to 2885 Olentangy River Road. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Charlie Bear: Land of Dance, a dance club that was located in the South Campus Gateway, has relocated to 2885 Olentangy River Road.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

Some doors have slammed shut for good at the Gateway, and despite what owners say, safety might have been the biggest issue.

“There had been several safety issues and security instances over the course of the last couple of years that we had tried to address with Charlie Bear, and certainly their inability to work with us in trying to address those led us to some of our decision,” said Amanda Hoffsis, president of Campus Partners for Community Urban Redevelopment.

Since the beginning of the summer, at least three businesses in the South Campus Gateway have closed — Kildare’s Irish Pub, Charlie Bear: Land of Dance and Gooeyz, with the latter two announcing their leaves via social media.

Charlie Bear revealed via Twitter and Facebook Oct. 24 it was moving to a new location at 2885 Olentangy River Road, formerly Cadillac Boo’s, which is owned by the same people as Charlie Bear. A new location might not have been the only motivation for the three-mile shift off campus though.

Campus Partners is a private nonprofit corporation that works on community planning in the Ohio State campus area alongside the university and the city of Columbus. South Campus Gateway LLC is a subtenant of Campus Partners.

Hoffsis said, though, the problems had to do with the state government.

“Our only issues were events that the Ohio Department of Public Safety suggested we ramp down,” she said.

SuAnn Cook, agent-in-charge at the Ohio Department of Public Safety, confirmed there were safety issues, with three formal complaints made at the Charlie Bear location in the Gateway.

“All three of our investigations were closed (due) to either via an arrest or via a citation, so I would say no, that they had not complied with (requests to stop safety problems) because obviously, we arrested underaged people,” Cook said.

Yet Charlie Bear owner, Ted Lawson, said he didn’t see his business as being uncooperative. Instead, Lawson said he thinks Campus Partners “teamed up” with the Ohio Department of Public Safety to “go against (him) because there were certain events (Campus Partners) didn’t want.”

While open in the Gateway, Charlie Bear held “18 and up” nights every Thursday to help give the younger crowd something to do rather than go downtown, and Gateway representatives didn’t like those events, he said.

Some OSU students though, didn’t see the “18 and up” nights as a safety issue.

“I know a lot of my friends when we were younger, freshmen or sophomore year, they would go to their ‘18 and up’ nights and I never had any assumption that it was unsafe,” said Lydia Simon, third-year in Chinese and art management.

She added that she lived in the area near Gateway on Ninth Avenue and said people in that area can be “sketchy” sometimes, but she didn’t think Charlie Bear was bringing in a bad crowd.

Those “18 and up” nights were eventually shut down at the dance club, even though Lawson said he personally paid for additional security in and around his business.

“I would have anywhere from two up to eight (security people) depending on the event … that was something that I did that was separate. I didn’t have to do that, but we did it to ensure that everyone was safe,” Lawson said.

Even with those precautions, complaints were still filed against the tenant then-located at 1562 N. High St.

“We have had three complaints since November of last year and those three complaints were all founded, meaning that we found violations of law during our investigations,” Cook said.

She added, though, that details of those complaints could not be disclosed because some of the cases were still open, and no one has been formally charged as guilty.

Lawson said he’s heard different reasons for why officials didn’t like Charlie Bear.

“I’ve been told that they didn’t like our image and they didn’t like all the massive amounts of college kids drinking down there. They said it wasn’t a good image,” Lawson said.

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