XXX adult store sign turns off Wayzata

A new "XXX Adult Books" sign in Wayzata, Minn. is turning off several city leaders and residents, and the owner has been ordered to take it down.

The sign sits on a property on Lake Street in the west end of posh downtown Wayzata. It is apparently owned by Brad Hoyt, CEO of Continental Property Group. The city contends the owners posted the sign for attention, and it would require a permit. As it stands, it's against city ordinance.

Last December, the City Council denied the owner's plan to develop a five-story luxury apartment complex with retail space below at 253 and 259 Lake St. E. According to zoning rules, a building can only be three stories. In February, the owner painted the remaining building a flamingo pink color after filing a lawsuit against the city. On Tuesday, the XXX sign went up. City attorney Paul Reuvers believes this is all happening because the owner of the building is angry and trying to get under the city's skin.

"They're unhappy with the denial of their land use application, and here's a way to get back at the city," Reuvers said.

Continental's attorney Michel Mergens said his client is not responsible for the sign or the paint job because they aren't owners, just developers.

"I do know it was not Continental Property Group, because Continental Property Group does not have any interest in a property that would be allowed to put up a sign," Mergens said.

Instead, he said Berry and Company owns the property, but could not confirm the person calling the shots. A public records search discovered the man who runs Berry and Company is actually Hoyt. Hoyt has not offered comment.

Hoyt is a sophisticated real estate investor with a litigious past, winning and losing several real estate battles with government agencies in Hennepin County. All signs indicate, including the XXX sign, he'll be in the fight for the long haul.

The city said the sign's owners have 48 hours to take it down, otherwise legal action may be taken. A hearing on Continental's lawsuit against the city will take place in a few months.

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