Union Street swingers club for sale
Neighbors happy parties may come to an end
SCHENECTADY The swingers club on Union Street may soon be shutting down. Owner Robert Alexson is putting the building up for sale.
But he won’t leave until someone agrees to pay $270,000 for his Victorian-style mansion, which is assessed for $125,700.
“If I don’t get my price, I’m staying,” he said after listing the property with Collar City Auctions Realty on Monday.
Alexson said his decision to sell has nothing to do with his run-ins with city officials over the parties he hosts where couples can swap partners for sex. The city had told him he must move his parties out of the residential neighborhood on Union Street by the end of October, but he continued to party all winter without any apparent repercussions.
Alexson has insisted for years that the city cannot legally stop him from running the parties.
“What I do in the privacy of my own house is none of their business,” he said.
City officials disagree, but Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said he was pleased by the news that Alexson would be shutting himself down.
“I hope he gets a quick sale,” Van Norden said.
Van Norden added that Alexson’s swinger parties, once a booming business that Alexson said brought in more than a thousand dollars each weekend, seem to have died down since the city told him to cease and desist.
“He’s not advertising parties anymore. He has advertised three bus trips. It looked like it was really drying up,” Van Norden said.
Neighbor Dana Swalla, who has led the fight to stop the swinger parties for the past two years, said there’s been little noise and few major events there in recent months.
“He doesn’t have people out on the porches like he used to — that stopped a long time ago,” she said. “He had something pretty big this weekend. Cars lined up along the street. He’s had a few relatively well-attended parties. I think the people have just been more careful about where they park.”
Swalla brought the issue to public attention in 2006 after neighbors were repeatedly awakened by large parties that continued late into the night. Many did not end until 4 a.m.
Even though neighbors are being disturbed less often now, she still celebrated the news that he put his building up for sale. She happily chatting with reporters about what might be the end of her long fight.
“I can’t say I’m sad, given all the battles and everything,” she said. “It’s unfortunate he couldn’t find a way to work with the neighbors that might have made him more successful.”
She plans to meet with her neighbors to determine what uses they would support at the large building, which would likely need a special use permit to rent out rooms as a hotel or bed and breakfast. She wants to oppose any such permits.
“I’m going to make sure whatever he got doesn’t get carried forward,” she said. “I want to discuss with my neighbors what uses they think are appropriate.”
Alexson said he has no specific timetable on when he hopes to sell the property.
“I’ve already got people coming over like crazy looking at it so I’m not worried about it,” he said.
Alexson said he has three job offers down in Florida. He would not elaborate on the offers but said only that one is for offering to run a gated community or some type of property management work.
In his Collar City Auctions Realty advertisement, Alexson described his home as a 6,000-square-foot Victorian mansion, built in 1897, with 14 bedrooms, two living rooms, a formal dining room and a commercial kitchen.
Not included in the ad is a description of the mansion’s basement, which Alexson marketed to swingers as an ideal place for sex games. He furnished it with several bondage toys.
The ad also says that he makes $107,000 in annual rents at the B&B.
The details behind that income are unclear. Alexson had previously said he rarely has anyone stay overnight, but some guests have said they rented rooms for months at a time. The county began an investigation into Alexson’s income two years ago after noting that he paid very little hotel tax. As a B&B, he must pay tax on every room that is used, even if it is not used for an entire night, according to county officials. They never announced the results of that investigation.