A local company is asking the city for permission to open up a New Town tattoo parlor, six years after Key West ended its longtime ban on the business of permanent inking.
Venomis Ink Tattoo wants to open up at 1970 N. Roosevelt Blvd., inside the same building Liquid 8 Pawn plans to move into from its Truman Avenue location, according to its Planning Board application filed at City Hall.
Pawn shops fall under retail zoning laws in Key West. But tattoo parlors require special permission since the 2007 law ushered in the industry after the Navy-inspired 1966 prohibition installed as a health precaution at a time when 10,000 sailors roamed the port city.
If granted permission from the city, Venomis would become the area's fifth licensed tattoo parlor, joining two on Duval Street and two on Stock Island.
But within the city limits, Key West proper, it would become the third tattoo spot.
"I don't see why not," said tattoo artist Jason Covington, an owner of Southernmost Tattoo, when asked about the possible competition. "Being up on Roosevelt, they will probably catch more of the locals. Our local clientele is pretty much set in stone."
All four licensed shops received "satisfactory" ratings in 2012 from state inspectors; that's the highest rating, meaning no legal violations were observed.
Venomis' owners believe there is room in Key West for another tattoo shop.
"In the private sector people either think there's still a market share or they think they can do it better," said urban planner Owen Trepanier, who represents the applicant.
The building, vacant since 2008, formerly housed Conchy Joe's restaurant and tackle shop, and is smack in the middle of the state's ongoing road reconstruction of the boulevard.
Pawn shop manager Rick Igo recently plunked down a $2,150 check for the city's permit -- $2,000 alone -- and $150 in fees and is due to go before the Planning Board at its 6 p.m. May 16 meeting.
Roosevelt Holdings, Inc., led by Dellis Cecil, bought the 15,472 square foot building in November 2012 for $750,000. In 2006, the place sold for $1.85 million.
In 2007, the city settled a lawsuit that allowed for two tattoo shops to open on Duval Street: Southernmost Tattoo and Paradise Tattoo, which is only several doors away.
Paradise has been tattooing in the area for 23 years, starting out on Stock Island outside the city limits.
Both shops are open 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Deciding it couldn't legally bar what the state allows, city leaders wrote a tattoo ordinance that limited the number of parlors in Old Town to two.
The law cites the "potential deterioration of a preserved historic district; and increase in the incidents of disease and land use incompatibilities."
Brad Buehrle, of Richmond, Va, sued the city in state court late last year when he was denied permits to open up at 330 Simonton St, calling the Old Town limit "arbitrary and capricious."
Buehrle's lawsuit remains pending, according to Monroe County court records.