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Church moves into former Colacurcio strip club

Up on Aurora Avenue in Shoreline, an old building with a dark and seedy past is getting a chance at redemption.

SHORELINE, Wash. -- Up on Aurora Avenue in Shoreline, an old building with a dark and seedy past is getting a chance at redemption. And it could help transform the neighborhood as well.

On Monday at lunch time, the Junction is a place where anyone can come inside for a bite to eat, a hot cup of coffee and a warm reception.

When the Bethany Community Church decided to lease this Shoreline property a year ago, the lead pastor had plenty of doubt.

"I just kept thinking, are we sure? Are we sure? Are we sure?" said Pastor Scott Sund.

That's because of all the buildings along Aurora Avenue North of ill repute, this was one of the worst.

It was a strip club known as Sugars, owned by adult entertainment mogul felon Frank Colacurcio Sr. He went to prison. The property went up for auction. And the new owners searched for a new tenant.

"It was a place where women were exploited," said property owner Evan Voltsis. "And that's something that we wanted to change."

So instead of going for the highest bidder, Voltsis chose the higher calling and leased it to the church.

In the last year, the Bethany Community Church removed the stage, tore down the black walls, ripped up the red carpet, and then shattered the mirrors.

"For a while we thought we'd be able to re-purpose them and we just began smashing them," said Sund. "And there was something very powerful about just knowing how women were enslaved here."

"I think the whole time I've been living in Shoreline, 28 plus years, this is the best thing I've seen happen," Mayor Shari Winstead told the crowd.

An inviting cafe owned by One Cup Coffee lures in community leaders, high school students, even methadone patients walking down the street. One of them, Suzanne Cozad, is trying to start a new life too, and says she feels welcome here.

"Not judge people for who they are or where they come from. Because as people we are on common ground."

Sund says he's seeing a transformation in the works on many levels, and he hopes the neighborhood takes notice.

"We feel like the best is yet to come," said Sund.

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