The first time Rich Butler walked into what used to be Bucks, Racks and Ribs, formerly the infamous Platinum Plus strip club, he cried.
So is his wife, Joanna.
Many signs of the building’s former use in Greenville, South Carolina, remained — the stage, the columns, the bright colors — but for the Butlers, what they saw was the perfect location for the church Butler leads.
A church in a strip club?
Stranger things have happened.
Church of Hope after meeting at Greenville First since February, leaders have been looking throughout Greenville for a permanent location.
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 existing 20,000-square-foot clubhouse for worship and add a 10,000-square-foot mezzanine for classrooms and other purposes above.
Construction will begin after the deal closes in late November. Butler declined to disclose the sale price until the sale is complete. According to the property listing, the asking price was $828,620.
The unusual idea of turning a strip club into a church didn’t go down well with Butler or members and neighbors, some of whom took to social media to say they were glad no other strip club would pop up.
Platinum Plus had a long story has run afoul of the law since opening in 2000 and has been shut down by the courts. There have been three homicide investigations as a result of incidents on the grounds; more than a thousand calls were made to 911. The business was charged with serving alcohol to minors, and the dancers were charged with prostitution.
Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis then called Platinum Plus a “stain” on the community.
It finally closed in 2015 and reopened as “the home of beautiful shelving 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 the Simpsonville campus five years ago. Each location has a dedicated minister who works together on sermons and then delivers the same message each week, Butler said.
Butler was lead pastor for two years and associate pastor for nearly eight years before that. He played football at Charleston Southern and was a pastor for 20 years.
The history of the building did not deter the leaders of the church.
“We’re all about redemption,” Butler said. “This is a story our God would write.”