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Lease not renewed for Bismarck night club where parking lot fights occurred

Lease not renewed for Bismarck night club where parking lot fights occurred

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The Sahara Night Club was operating in the former Sears location at Gateway Mall in north Bismarck.

A Gateway Mall night club that Bismarck police said was the site of several parking lot fights, including a large one last month, is no longer operating after losing its lease.

The Sahara Night Club, a nonalcoholic venue that served people 18 years old and above, opened in October 2019. It often stayed open until 3 a.m.

Mall General Manager Andrew Schiermeister said Sahara's lease at the mall was on a month-to-month basis and the mall did not want to continue it. He did not offer other reasons for ending the lease.

Sahara owner Ivan Makuve did not respond to requests for comment from the Tribune.

City Attorney Jannelle Combs said her office was not involved in a decision to shut down the night club.

Mayor Steve Bakken said there were issues with altercations in the parking lot outside the night club after 3 a.m. He added that he had been contacted by other mall business owners with concerns about what was happening in the lot, so he called Gateway Mall owner Raymond Arjmand and asked him to look into it. Bakken said he did not call the owner to ask that the club be shut down. Bakken did not speak with Schiermeister.

Deputy Police Chief Randy Ziegler said the department had received many calls for service and had responded to three assaults in the parking lot outside the club -- one in March, one in June and one in August. People in the parking lot were sometimes noncompliant with officers, he said.

Fourteen police officers responded to an incident at Sahara in the early hours of Sept. 13. Police received a call about the smell of marijuana in the lot and broke up a large fight at the scene. Officers found an unconscious 20-year-old in the lot bleeding from his head and nose. Other fights broke out in the lot while police were investigating, leading to 14 officers at the scene.

Ziegler said he had suggested Makuve increase security, and that the club owner had been considering adding two security guards to monitor the parking lot.

Reach Sam Nelson at 701-250-8264 or sam.nelson@bismarcktribune.com.

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