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City limits club’s capacity over fire safety concerns

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City fire inspectors have cut the legal capacity of Pipeline Cafe to 299 people from 951 after finding several violations at the Kakaako nightclub.

The reduced capacity has forced Pipeline to adjust its entertainment calendar and left promoters scrambling to find substitute venues.

Inspectors found that fire sprinklers over the club’s 2003 expansion area are not connected to an adequate water supply. Pipeline also developed the expansion without a building permit, owner Greg Azus said.

Azus said he needs to work with landlord Kamehameha Schools and the city to secure an adequate water supply for the fire sprinklers — a fix he said will cost about $50,000.

"We’ve been operating all this time as it is," said Azus, who assumed ownership of the club in 2008. "We’ve never had a violation or a problem with the Honolulu Fire Department before. … I have no idea what made this come up now."

Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig said, "The company, Pipeline Cafe, has known about these concerns and violations for years. In November we reached the point where we had to act because there was no sign of compliance. There was no good-faith effort to get these things done, even though there were promises.

"The only alternative was to reduce the capacity to what is safe for the building’s size and (fire) protection systems."

City spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said the Department of Planning and Permitting sent the club a notice of violation on Nov. 22 for "interior alterations done without a building permit." She said no fines were assessed. Azus said he has since acquired the necessary permit.

Seelig said Pipeline would be allowed to return to its former 951-person capacity if it connects the sprinkler system in the expansion to a pressurized water supply.

Changes to Pipeline’s entertainment calendar include the loss of these acts:

» Pepper, this Friday, moved to Aloha Tower Marketplace.

» Digital Paradise 3D, also Friday, moved to Chinatown’s SoHo Mixed Media Bar.

» Passion Pit, next Saturday, moved to Aloha Tower Marketplace on Dec. 12.

For BAMP Project, promoter of the Pepper and Passion Pit concerts, Pipeline’s capacity issue has proved to be a headache.

"We have contingency plans in place for all our shows. … At the same time, it’s tough because we have a lot of shows we were going to put on sale," BAMP co-owner Matty Hazelgrove said. "Now we don’t know whether or not to announce them."

Two remaining performances by hypnotist Sailesh will continue at Pipeline, as will tonight’s "Sagittarius B-Bash" featuring Jeremih, a performance Wednesday by stand-up comedian Jordan Rubin and a Los Lobos concert on Thursday. The club will remain open for lunch and special events.

"We’re working on a compromise and getting something into place," Azus said. "We plan on staying open and … working within the guidelines set forth by the city."

 

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