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Troubled St. Louis nightclub facing backlash for crime, failure to pay rent

<i>KMOV</i><br/>In two weeks time
In two weeks time

By Jenna Rae

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    ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — Up and down Washington Avenue in Downtown St. Louis, local business reigns. However, a problem with outbursts of crime, has business owners growing more concerned by the day.

“Our windows got shot up and that cost us a pretty big penny. I don’t think it’s fair that we have to deal with that,” Jennifer DeCarrillo said. DeCarrillo owns J’s Studio, a hair salon across from Reign. She survived the pandemic, but it’s incidents like Tuesday night that really worry her.

News 4 obtained exclusive video showing a shooting outside the club on Tuesday.

“A lot of other salons closed down, but we were still standing and that’s how people found out about us in this area. We were booming after that, but then the violence started, the shootings, and it just dropped dramatically,” DeCarrillo said.

In two weeks time, there have been three shootings outside Reign. Tuesday night’s ended with a person being shot in the shoulder. The ward’s alderman, Jack Coatar, says it’s time for the city to act.

“I’d like to see the place shut down. It’s a huge problem for downtown and unfortunately, the owners and management of this establishment have shown they have no idea how to run a big bar and aren’t capable of doing so,” Coatar said.

At a press conference early Wednesday, News 4 asked Mayor Tishaura Jones about these Washington Avenue problems. She says, it’s not just Reign.

“This isn’t just downtown. This is about addressing gun violence city-wide and making sure that everyone lives in safe neighborhoods,” Jones said.

News 4 has now obtained multiple court filings against Reign’s owner, Dana Kelly. All of them show Kelly failing to pay rent for months.

Documents show in September 2020, the landlord, Copia Acquisition LLC, notified Kelly of failure to pay rent. At that time, property owners claimed Reign owned at least $161,331.25.

In October 2020, documents show the property owners tried to terminate Reign’s lease, asking them to leave the premise. However, Reign got a second chance.

Then in March 2021, documents show Reign failed to pay rent yet again. Their lease was terminated a second time on March 27, 2021.

News 4’s Jenna Rae tried calling Kelly, Reign’s owner, Wednesday to discuss the ongoing issues. When her call was sent to a full voicemail box, Rae texted Kelly and there was no response. When Rae sent another text an hour later asking specifically about the club’s lawsuit, Kelly responded.

“The lease has not been properly terminated and the owner continues to receive substantial payments each month. We will have no further comment regarding ongoing litigation at this time.”

Alderman Coatar says this violence on Washington Avenue is stemming from Reign. He says no other clubs, bars or venues downtown are having these issues.

“It wouldn’t be a secret if people were getting shot at other bars and restaurants in downtown or adjacent to downtown. It’s simply not happening at other establishments, it’s happening at Reign because the management and the owners don’t know what they’re doing,” Coatar said.

Coatar says Reign is set to be held accountable by city leaders. On September 10, Reign is having a liquor license hearing with the city. News 4 is told they could have their liquor license revoked.

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