Here’s some candy that’s good for everyone!
For the better part of a year, neighbors in Northern Liberties have been dealing with the club/bullshit situation known as Club Aura. Perched on the corner on Front and Fairmount, it’s one of those doomed spaces; it’s been a hundred clubs and never has one of them either taken hold or not been shady in some way. (Fun sidenote: If you remember the time it was Club Metro and had all of those awesome side rooms and things and Philebrity had a couple of parties there, you are old! And we love you.) Some time last year, neighbors were introduced to a new tenant on the site, called Club Aura, once again as though and as if the name had been pulled from a Law & Order Shady Club Name Generator. Club Aura made short work of nabbing Worst Neighbor status: If it wasn’t the poor crowd control and the patrons’ predilection for bare-knuckle fighting, it was its cavalier disregard for the science of soundproofing. Once neighbors started digging, they realized: Holy moly, this place was operating without about a handful of licenses one would need to open such a venue. And this wasn’t NIMBY, whiny stuff: Aura was a piece of shit that had blatant disregard for the community it was supposed to be a part of. Residents of NoLibs are now quite used to living among bars and restaurants and clubs. This wasn’t that; this was toxic, and, as it turned out, illegal.
The neighbors got to work, calling L&I, their local representatives, whoever would listen. And yet, still, for months on end, Club Aura opened each weekend. Somehow. According to Councilman Mark Squilla’s office, they’d been in violation every time they opened. And still, they opened. In a series of missives to L&I, City Council reps, the PLCB and more, from all kinds of folks, it was perhaps Larry Freedman, Chair of the Northern Liberties Zoning Board, who articulated the situation best:
As you know, over the years we have reviewed numerous restaurants with and without alcohol. We know the red flags and potential problems with these uses and for the most part we have maintained control and have created a fun and popular neighborhood for eating out and nightlife. Then there is Aura.
I have not seen such a blatant disregard for neighbors and authority by an operator in a long time. I am appalled by their inhuman and uncivilized behavior . They have no intention of fixing the problems of excessive noise, rowdy behavior, etc. all in violation of LCB regulations. In addition they are not operating with the required Special Assembly License.
I am requesting that they be shut down immediately until these infractions are remedied. We have been known to work with folks who have a missed permit here or a lapsed license there but in this case there will be no leeway. If they want to apply for the permit they will need to meet with the neighborhood. We’d love to see them. For now, we respectfully ask that you have L&I paste the red and white striped cease and desist poster on their front door.
Let’s support the neighbors from interlopers who are out for a fast buck with no regard for the lives of those that they are ruining.
That was over a month ago. This morning, Club Aura finally got candy-striped. And ‘lo, it was good. At least until the next tenant at Front & Fairmount.
UPDATE: A reader from NoLibs tells us: “Fun fact: they’re permitted to continue as a bar/restaurant but no live music or DJs. So, in keeping with their scofflawism, they’re promoting tonight as a DJ event on Twitter (@auraphl). The hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.”