Wednesday, August 19, 1998

CITY PAGES
There's the Rub
It's been almost two decades since Sauna 27 set up shop on a narrow strip of land wedged between 27th and Minnehaha avenues just off Lake Street. A liquor store and death-metal CD shop share the concrete island, and the Minneapolis Police Department's 3rd Precinct headquarters sits across the way. Until last year, cops and folks living nearby in the Longfellow neighborhood mostly turned a blind eye on Sauna 27--a squat, concrete building with its "open" signs and dusty blinds slung akimbo in the windows. Sure, they might have harbored suspicions that a few adventures in the skin trade were under way inside, but nobody much bothered with business as usual.

That fine harmony hit a blue note last year when business owner Chong Son Kerling was arrested for prostitution on two separate occasions--the first such busts in over a decade. Since November, eight different protests by picketing neighbors have spooked sauna customers and ticked off workers inside. Earlier this year, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office filed for a court injunction to shut down the joint using the state's nuisance law, which gives judges license to flush out and board up drug houses, brothels, and other hot spots.

Read more here.