Faced with a mounting public outcry, SunBank officials offered Wednesday to "protect the community" and buy back their former branch office building from Joe Redner, proprietor of nude dance clubs. But the bank's offer would not reimburse Redner for more than $35,000 in closing costs, making a buyback unlikely. Redner said he will sell only if he can profit from the deal.
J. Mulder, an attorney for the bank, said SunBank is offering Redner's company, Production Equipment of Tampa, what it paid for the building earlier this year. Redner said he bought it for $650,000, but the bank would not confirm the price.
Redner said he had not seen the offer yet, but "it would have to be pretty lucrative" for him to sell.
Redner plans to open Mons II, a nude-dancing business, in the former SunBank building on State Road 60 in Brandon by March 1. His expansion into suburban Brandon has outraged local residents.
Many of them came to a town meeting held by the Hillsborough County Commission on Tuesday night to discuss a variety of local issues.
One resident accused Redner of "threatening the moral fiber of the community." Another resident cited Redner's 1983 felony conviction for cocaine possession. Others said the club would expose children to pornography and foster crime in Brandon.
"It's an outrage to the morals of a community," said David Blomgren of the Tampa Bay Christian Center.
Kip Martin, 17, said Brandon High School classmates boast about getting into Mons Venus, Redner's other nude club in Tampa. He warned that youngsters would find fake IDs and go to a local nude club.
And Kristin Meeks, 9, a student at the Florida Suncoast Gymnastics Academy, which is within 2,000 feet of the proposed club, skipped up to the podium in her black leotard and red hair bow, bounced on her toes and told commissioners how she felt.
Throughout the two-hour meeting, Redner sat alone in the sixth row of the Brandon High School auditorium. Usually outspoken, Redner did not go to the microphone. He explained that he has a bad memory and avoids public speaking.
"If I didn't know that I was right, I couldn't do this thinking I was out there causing (patrons) to molest children," Redner said later. "They're fanatics. They don't care about children. They have an agenda. They have God to serve."
After the meeting, Redner and a group of residents argued outside.
As three Hillsborough sheriff's deputies watched, Redner vowed his club would open. He defended himself with quotes from sex studies that deny a link between pornography and crime.
Wendy Stebbins, a devout Christian who answers her phone "Praise the Lord," and has launched a letter-writing campaign against the club, offered to pray for Redner.
Redner said opponents would have to burn him out of business.
Stebbins, who faithfully collects newspaper clippings about Redner's business, reminded him that a similar vow in 1985 after a heated Town 'N Country town meeting was followed the day after by an arson at another of his dance clubs. A former business associate was charged in connection with the incident.
On Wednesday, commissioners heard a plan that would deny or revoke a person's business license because of prior criminal history.
The proposal, by David Caton of the American Family Association, also would ban such acts as lap dancing and other contact between nude dancers and patrons.
Commissioners voted 6-0 to have their attorney draft a comprehensive adult entertainment ordinance that is stricter than Hillsborough's current standards.
_ Staff writers Jennifer Orsi and Jennifer L. Stevenson contributed to this report.