House nightclub was one of the most talked-about clubs in Miami years before it even opened. Mark Lowe, who had previously made his mark at Living Room, the rare Fort Lauderdale nightclub that some Miamians were willing to drive to, was rumored to be working on Wynwood's first true megaclub. Announced in 2011, it finally opened in 2014. However, in January, the city announced it was revoking its certificate of occupation.
Lowe and his business partners appealed and last week won a unanimous decision by Miami’s Planning, Zoning, and Appeals Board to place a reprieve on the revocation.
At issue was faulty surveying. According to the Real Deal, clubs are not allowed to operate in Miami-Dade if they are within 1,000 feet of a school. Turns out House is 874 feet from Phyllis Wheatley Elementary. But no one knew that fact when House's permit was issued. Turns out the survey company submitted faulty information, and the city never challenged it.
The board sided with Lowe's lawyers' argument of "equitable estoppel," meaning the city can't revoke a permit it already approved. Also considered was the fact that House is never open while school is in session (it usually operates only Friday and Saturday nights) and the fact that more than $4 million has been invested in the project.
Lowe, however, has long maintained he's been the victim of a steady stream of obstacles placed by rivals.
In 2013, he claimed Michael Slyder, owner of the downtown club Mekka, was waging a war to prevent House from opening (a charge Slyder denied). Lowe believed downtown club owners saw Wynwood clubs as a threat. (Mekka has since closed to make way for Miami Worldcenter. Slyder recently opened Bekkoi nightclub on NE 11th Street.)
House isn't technically in Wynwood. It's a few blocks away and is actually in the Omni Community Redevelopment Area and within the borders of Overtown.
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The club, though not explicitly gay, also caters to a large gay clientele, especially Saturday nights. Lowe said he's received complaints from some people that the club is "dark, evil, sinful, immoral, and gay."
"The fact that after 4+years of blatant targeting , anonymous complaints , religious bigots , greedy competitors , and dirty politics , that we haven't folded like a HOUSE of cards is a testament to you , and the strength you've given us," Lowe wrote in a Facebook post shared with those who follow House's page. "The fact that a distance measurement turned in over 4 years ago in good faith and approved by countless city departments is dug up again is unheard of. In the history of Miami there has NEVER been a business that lost its CU under these circumstances. We invested our souls based on those approvals, and changed a neighborhood for the better.
"As has always been the case with me I turn to you. I built myself as a promoter with the foundation of the GLBTQ community," he wrote. "You are the ones who kept me alive while I built other nights, you are the ones who stayed loyal to the end, and you are the ones still standing. Your power is immeasurable and it's opened the doors for EVERYONE, Gay, Straight, Bi, Curious, Transgender, and EVERYTHING in between to walk through TOGETHER. This HOUSE was built to welcome everyone, so it's fitting that the public finally decides our fate."