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Vleisides argued that the Unions had made enough effort to operate a safe and law-abiding club. Under Vleisides' questioning, Randol said the couple had been cooperative. To her knowledge, no felony arrests had been made inside Xpressions.
Hedgepath left the auditorium during Randol's testimony. (He did not respond to a follow-up e-mail or a phone message left at one of his businesses.) Later in the day, Natasha Union addressed the rumor that Hedgepath is more than a landlord and continues to operate the club in some capacity. (Majors had raised the possibility during one of his early meetings with the Unions.) She denied that Hedgepath had any interest in the club, stating that she and her husband were financially committed to the business.
"We pretty much put our life savings into it," she said.
During his testimony, Eric Union described the costs of running a popular downtown nightclub. He said he had spent $47,000 on outside security.
A more docile crowd, of course, would not cost as much to control. The Unions, Singleton and other staff members talked at length about their efforts to refine their clientele, such as the 25-and-older policy on Saturdays. But under the city attorney's questioning, they acknowledged that most of the measures had been taken after the Unions were notified of the club's probation violation.
During the public-comment period, a handful of the club's unhappy neighbors rose to speak. Marvin Pool, a retired contractor who converted a building on Admiral into lofts, complained that activity at the club did not allow him to charge market-rate rents. "I'm 79 years old, and this is my retirement," he said, raising his voice.
Camille Brown, who rents an apartment near the club, said she was ready to move. "They did too little too late," she said, speaking of the Unions.
In an interview with The Pitch, Brown said the area around Xpressions gets "buck wild" on the weekends. Brown is frustrated with Xpressions. At the same time, she recognizes that entertainment options are limited for young black people in Kansas City. "Our kids," she said, "don't have anywhere to party."
The members of the liquor board who attended the August 4 hearing needed only a few minutes to deliberate. They voted unanimously to uphold the city's decision to revoke the club's license.
When the hearing broke up, a woman who works for the private security company that Xpressions hired to replace KC Patrol and Protection, muttered under her breath. "Jerks," she said.
Stapleton commiserated with the Unions, Vleisides and Coe after the board announced its decision. "I just feel sorry for them," she said of the young couple. "They're really great people."
Vleisides said after the hearing that he would ask the circuit court to restrain Regulated Industries from yanking the license. Last week, Coe said the Unions had not been officially notified of the revocation.
The club has continued to operate. Last Friday night, a group of four women tugged at the sides of their skirts as they walked in towering heels from a parked car to the club. It was 11 p.m., and there was no line to get inside. The uncertainty appears to be taking a toll. The women left the scarcely populated club after 30 minutes. The Xpressions website promotes a Labor Day event but none further in the future.
A day after the hearing, The Pitch asked Majors if he thought he made a mistake by giving Hedgepath the opportunity to sell the venue last year. The inspector let out a long sigh before answering.
"I honestly hoped the problem with the club was more management on Hedgepath's part than just the fact that it's a very large club," he said. "I thought that possibly with different management, it could be successful. I did have my doubts, and I certainly expressed those doubts with the Unions when I first met with them."