Area 111 owner Shauncy Raspberry

Nightclub owner Shoncy Raspberry told Dallas Voice in April that when he started working to open his bar, Area 111, in the building at 111 Oak Lawn Avenue, in the Design district he was told point blank by people representing themselves as the Design District Defenders that they didn’t want Black people or gay people on their block — only they used more descriptive words than “Black” and “gay.”

Raspberry had been working for two years to get his new club open. His Design District neighbors called city code enforcement on him 128 times.

Who were those neighbors? They were businesses occupying rundown warehouses on the block and residents occupying warehouses that are not zoned residential.

Parking is often an issue when new bars open. But with parking spaces on his property and on several adjacent properties, Raspberry exceeds city parking requirements for Area 111.

Noise is also often an issue with bars, especially in non-entertainment districts. Raspberry knew that would be an issue, even if it were questionable whether anyone should be living on the block. So as part of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovations he made to the property, he installed soundproofing. And each night at the end of the evening, he has customers wait for their valet inside the club rather than standing outside where they might disturb neighbors.

And then there is the property itself. It stands out like a sore thumb on that last block of Oak Lawn Avenue that ends at the levee. That’s because it’s the only property there that’s been upgraded and modernized and looks like a showplace.

And that’s because it is certainly a showplace. Not only did Raspberry build a dazzling interior, he improved the exterior of the building so that it became the one and only shining star on an otherwise drab and deteriorating street.

Now, despite the racist and homophobic efforts to block the bar which caused so many delays for Raspberry, Area 111 has been up and running for about eight months now, without any major problems. Drag shows are a staple at Area 111, and show director Shemar Dupree said he works to make sure the entertainment is top notch. Among the bar’s fans are Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and former Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano, who have both been to the bar and loved it.

— David Taffet