Ex-operator of club where teen shot seeks to open hall on Clay

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, March 22, 2012

The operator of a teen club shut down in August after a shooting is seeking a special zoning exception to open a dance hall and center for visual and performing arts on Clay Street.

Roosevelt Cooper, 1114 Fayette St., is seeking a special exception to put the business, called KOK Dance Participant Sports, in a building at 1720 Clay, a building zoned C-4 commercial, according to information on the application.

The Vicksburg Post was forced to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the application after city Zoning Administrator Dalton McCarty said city employees had been told to send all requests for public records to the City Clerk’s Office.

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Cooper was the operator of Swag Stars at 1925 Washington St. in August after a 15-year-old was shot in the leg.

Attempts to contact Cooper about the business were unsuccessful, but according to the application, it is described as a center for visual and performing arts and dance hall, community learning, specialty school, indoor recreation, eatery and participant sports.

McCarty said businesses such as night clubs and dance halls are allowed in a C-4 zone by a special exception.

Cooper is renting the 2,700-square-foot rear section of the L-shaped building at 1720 Clay, building owner Hye McKenzie said. The front part of the building is occupied by Tranquility Day Spa and Hair Salon, owned and operated by McKenzie, according to city records. The rear section of the building was the site of an unlicensed night club called the Doom Room, which was closed by police in January 2011.

The building is on the south of Clay between Fillmore and Fifth North streets. The section Cooper is renting faces Fifth North.

He also is seeking a variance for 29 parking spaces instead of the 54 required in C-4. According to the application, he said he has permission from neighboring property owners to use their parking lots.

According to information about the business that accompanied the application, KOK will offer educational opportunities and urban dance lessons and hold Friday and Saturday sessions open to the public “where there is an on-call participant format.” People will be charged by dance lesson.

KOK, according to the information, “is a zero-tolerance zone,” and will prohibit drugs, fighting and arguing at the business and loitering.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen shut down Swag Stars on Aug. 25, four days after the shooting that resulted in a 16-year-old’s arrest. Albert Buchanan, 365 Drayton Road, was charged by Vicksburg police as an adult, and his case is awaiting action by the Warren County grand jury.

Cooper opened Swag Stars in June as a members-only teen dance studio in the Washington Street building prohibited by a 1995 chancery court injunction from being used as a club.

Cooper and city officials reached an agreement to stay the injunction and allowed him to use the building for a teen club under the conditions that he have age-appropriate activities and memberships to participate in the activities, including Friday and Saturday dances, and no adult participants. He also said there would be no alcohol, drugs or loitering outside the building.

Police Chief Walter Armstrong said after the shooting that police had been called to the club to deal with fights between teens, shots being fired and adults in the club. While no alcohol was found in the club, he said, alcohol bottles were found outside the building.

He said police sent admission-paying teens into the club on weekends, and they saw adults in the club. He said officers walking through the club one night found a 24-year-old convicted felon with the teens. He said the man fled when he saw the officer.