Aquarius club owner says he's selling building

The Aquarius nightclub could be on the way out of business after police and fire crews ordered "at least 400 people" out of the building last weekend because the occupancy was supposed to be capped at 49.

Monday night, club owner Wayne Kelley told News Center 7's Kate Bartley he's selling the building and evicting the tenants -- who run the club -- when their lease expires Nov. 19.

"The fire department had warned them several times. I had warned them numerous times," he said.

According to a Dayton police report, several officers were called to the club, 135 E. Second St., at 1:19 a.m. Sunday on an overcrowding/fire hazard call.

Officers shut it down after estimating that "at least 400 people" were in the club -- more than double the normal capacity and eight times the number of people allowed under a temporary order from the fire department.

Officers spent approximately 40 minutes clearing the second floor of the club, describing the mass exodus as a "continuous flow of people."

One police sergeant, whose name was not in the incident report, had apparently stopped by the club earlier in the night to warn the owner and manager that temporary capacity for the building was listed as 49 occupants.

The club was already past that number at the time the sergeant visited, and he warned club operators to thin the crowd out, according to the incident report.

Andrew Steele, a fire prevention specialist with the Dayton Fire Department said the club's occupancy had been restricted as of last month when the city revoked their public assembly permit. Steele said the club's managers had been made aware of violations of the fire code, including nonworking exit signs and problems with the fire alarm, back in the spring and had failed to fix the issues or contact the fire department.

"On Oct. 31 we posted an order on the front door," Steele said, and they informed police of the new occupancy limit.

Fire investigators said they will follow up, according to the incident report.

Last April, News Center 7 went inside the club when the city tried to pull the liquor license because city officials learned Kelley was leasing the building to the former owners of the A-List Lounge.

That's the place where a Central State University football player was gunned down two years ago.

Kelley, who said he stood by the managers then, now said they owe him rent.

"The building is up for sale," he said. "Anybody interested?"

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