GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — The first time Rich Butler walked into what used to be Bucks, Racks and Ribs, formerly the notorious Platinum Plus strip club, he wept.
His wife JoAnna did, too.
Many of the signs of the Greenville building’s former use remained — stage, poles, brash colors — but for the Butlers what they saw was the perfect location for the church Butler leads.
A church in a strip club?
Weirder things have happened. Hope Church leaders looked all over Greenville for a permanent location after meeting at Greenville First since February.
The former strip club had everything they were looking for. High visibility from Interstate 385 at what could be considered the entrance to Greenville, ample parking and a solid building. The plan is to use the 20,000-square-foot existing club for worship space and add a 10,000-square-foot mezzanine for classrooms and other uses above.
Construction will be underway once the deal closes in late November. Butler declined to reveal the sale price until after the sale is complete. The asking price was $828,620, according to the real estate listing.
The outlandish idea of a strip club becoming a church is not lost on Butler or on members and neighbors, some of whom took to social media to say they were happy no other strip club would come along.
Platinum Plus had a long history of entanglements with the law since opening in 2000 and was shut down by the courts. Three homicide investigations from incidents on the premises took place; more than a thousand calls to 911 were made. The business was cited for serving alcohol to minors and dancers were charged with prostitution.
Then Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis described Platinum Plus as a “stain” on the community.
It closed permanently in 2015 and opened as the “home of nice racks in 2017.” Bucks, Racks and Ribs closed after a five-year legal battle with Greenville County over whether it violated the county’s sexually oriented business laws.
Hope was founded 35 years ago in Spartanburg and added a Simpsonville campus five years ago. Each location has a dedicated minister who work together on sermons and then give the same message each week, Butler said.
Butler has been lead pastor for two years and associate pastor for almost eight years before that. He played football at Charleston Southern and has been a pastor for 20 years.
The building’s history did not deter the church leaders at all.
“We’re all about redemption,” Butler said. “This is a story our God would write.”