A quadruple shooting in the parking lot at Club Infuzion last Friday, which left one dead and three injured, forced the Scott’s Addition nightclub and restaurant to shut down operations this week. But is this the last we’ve seen of the popular hip hop venue?
According to the Richmond Police Department, around 2:00 a.m., officers were called to the 1400 block of Roseneath Road after a report of random gunfire where one male victim, later identified as Terrance C. Peters, was pronounced dead at the scene. Two others were taken to a nearby hospital. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening.
The incident reportedly started with a dispute over a cell phone. One day after the shooting, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control revoked the club’s liquor license and a summary suspension was issued against owner David Wheeler, who voluntarily surrendered the license according to a recent WTVR article. Building owner Bill Fields released a statement Thursday officially confirming the club’s closure.
“We took over possession of the space today and currently trying to re-lease the space now. We are looking for something that complements the neighborhood and works for us,” Fields told WTVR.
Infuzion, which opened in 2008, has been everything from an ice bar, where patrons could rent a parka and red gloves while hanging out in an ice-filled freezer with vodka shots, to a dance club and music venue, to a café. The current incarnation was popular both for its entertainment, which included DJs and live music, comedy, and karaoke, and for its restaurant Taste, serving seafood, pasta, and other American dishes.
In the aftermath of the closure, however, several prominent figures in the hip-hop community are wondering what will become of a space that catered to a black audience in the rapidly transforming Scott’s Addition neighborhood, where breweries and many of the restaurants mostly cater to white customers.
Marc Cheatham of The Cheats Movement shared his thoughts on the incident, wondering if the venue would be treated differently or become a target once the dust settles.
“Will they now become a target of the high-level scrutiny that only a club with majority black patrons can be subject too?” Cheatham wrote in his post. “Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t know Infuzion to have a track record of this type of violence, so I’m really curious what will happen over the next few weeks and months?”
His post went on to question if neighborhood residents would embrace this venue the same way it has the many breweries that have cropped up in recent years.
“When I heard the news, my thoughts turned to: Will Infuzion be subject to some sort of forced evacuation? Let’s face it, Scott’s Addition, “the upcoming neighborhood” that is a hub for new breweries and an influx of young professional patrons – I don’t know any of those breweries to be black-owned and the majority of their patrons who visit them are not black – may not want a hip-hop club and lounge in their “up and coming” mix.”
Douglas C. Powell/Roscoe Burnems of The Writer’s Den Poetry Slam, took to Facebook to inform his audience of the closure and express regrets at losing a venue he called “a staple” of the local arts scene.
The collective has held poetry slams and spoken-word competitions at various venues around town for the last four years, and even competes in national tournaments. For the last year, the Writer’s Den has called Infuzion RVA home.
“They’ve always been amazing. Jeremy [Knapp, General Manager] has always been very supportive of the arts and bringing in events like ours, poetry or whatever. “They were even one of our sponsors this year when we went to [a] competition in San Antonio,” he said in an interview. “I’ve always had a great experience.”
And while he was hurt to hear the news of the club shutting down after the incident, Burnems said it didn’t come as a surprise.
“I was very frustrated, Scott’s Addition is changing a lot, and a building that pretty much has defined itself as a nightclub mostly, it doesn’t fit in with what I think the area is trying to turn Scott’s Addition into, so it didn’t come as a shock, but I felt like it happened very sudden,” he said. “It’s gotten to a point where the main demographic that Infuzion pulls in via the club nights or other events does not look the same and I think there’s a level of gentrification there.”
And similar sentiments were shared by many individuals in the local arts and music scene according to Burnems.
“All the artists, and they’re mostly hip hop artists and poets, are very saddened to lose such a great event space,” he said.
He echoed a few of Cheatham’s points, stating that residents may not be comfortable with a nightclub such as Infuzion in their neighborhood.
“As far as I know, there’s no other nightclubs like Infuzion in that area, and I don’t think its fitting in with the changing demographics in Scott’s Addition so I think it’s very convenient as well in a way to push Infuzion out,” he said. “The residents will not fight to keep Infuzion, they were looking for a reason to get rid of Infuzion, that place will probably become a brewery tomorrow.”
Prior to Infuzion getting shut down, Burnems had plans to launch a weekly open mic there in August. For now, the open mic nights and haiku battles have been postponed, but Burnems said his collective has been scouting a few places around town to hold them, including Addis Ethiopian restaurant, where he also hosts Tuesday Verses, an open mic night.
“It’s been running there for almost 10 years so we considered moving our night there, but we’re also on the hunt,” he said.
Comedian Steve Hofstetter was scheduled to perform to a sold-out crowd at the venue tonight. He took to social media Wednesday to find another event space and vent his frustrations.
“Unfortunately, the owner of the building just closed the doors on Club Infuzion. I do not know if this is permanent or not, but they’ve cancelled all future events with no notice (unless you count less than three days to be notice). Legal? Nope! Shitty? Yep!” “People booked babysitters, out of town guests booked hotel rooms. But none of that mattered because there was a shooting a week ago NEAR the club (outside, in a car) and the landlord was clearly looking for an excuse to boot the club. So we were pretty fucked.”
Thursday morning, Hofstetter announced he had secured a spot at Comedy Sportz Theatre for his show, now scheduled for Saturday.
According to a Richmond BizSense article in November 2017, Chesterfield’s Blackwood Development purchased Infuzion Dance Club that September for $1.6 million with plans to transform it into a brewery, office space, or restaurant.
The club’s lease on the building was good through July of next year and according to the article, Infuzion planned to relocate once their lease was up.