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Gayborhood saved? Iconic Montrose bars not closing for apartment development, owners say

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Since opening in 2002, hotspot South Beach has emerged as one of Houston's most popular LGBT dance clubs. Photo via South Beach/Facebook
JRs gay bar at night
Along with South Beach, JR's was rumored to be sold to real estate developers. Photo by Joe Wolf/Flickr
JRs gay bar interior with crowd
The brick building housing JR's, featured above, dates to 1935. Photo by Joe Wolf/Flickr
News_South Beach_bar_gay bar
JRs gay bar at night
JRs gay bar interior with crowd

Rumors swept through Montrose Monday that iconic bars South Beach and JR's have been sold to real estate developers — another nail in the coffin for a neighborhood that many fear is swiftly losing its reputation as the epicenter of Houston's gay community.

But owners of the iconic hangouts want to sent the record straight for the city's LGBT scene  — The popular bars on Pacific Street are here to stay.

"These rumors have surfaced every other year for the last three decades," reports Jose Apodaca from Charles Armstrong Investments, the company that owns South Beach and JR's along with other gayborhood favorites like Meteor and the Montrose Mining Company.

"None of our bars are or will be for sale."

Since first arriving in Houston during the early 1980s, club magnate Charles Armstrong has become a legendary figure in Montrose for his decades-long commitment to maintaining the neighborhood's gay-friendly atmosphere.

Located on the 800-block of Pacific near the intersection of Montrose Boulevard, South Beach and JR's together sit on 109,000 square feet of land valued at more that $2 million, according to public records.

Though not listed in prime condition, the vintage brick building that houses JR's is a neighborhood landmark dating back to 1935.

The South Beach structure next door has some history of its own as the home of Heaven, the raging Montrose dance club that came to a sudden end when a fire nearly destroyed the building a decade ago. Armstrong took several years to renovate the '60s-era shell into the 10,000 square-foot nightclub, where it remains a popular weekend haunt.

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