Plans to open the US’s first so-called “sex robot brothel” in Houston have been put on hold by officials in the city.
Toronto-based company KinkySDollS announced last month it was preparing to launch a store in Texas, which would rent and sell dolls to clients from an office space.
However, the project has reportedly hit a snag after it was discovered business owners had not submitted an application for permits to convert the building, on Richmond Avenue in the east of the city.
Officials said any work done to the property would need to be reversed before the company could reapply for permission to carry out the renovations.
Adding to the firm's problems, the building’s manager claimed in a statement sent to Eyewitness News through his attorney he was unaware of what his would-be tenants intended to use the space for.
“My client was contacted about a lease for an art gallery at his Richmond offices, and was never provided the leasing documents he requested,” the statement said.
“After a few days passed, my client discovered the true nature of the business and never agreed to signing a lease for what was misrepresented as an art gallery.
“My client wants no part in this story or any type of any sexually oriented business.”
The move by KinkySDollS to open a “robot brothel” in Houston, its second venture after launching a similar business in Toronto, Canada, earlier this year, has proved controversial.
The company wants to sell sex robots, which can touch users while providing vocal responses, at prices starting from $2,500 (£1,900).
At its Toronto location, KinkySDollS provides rental dolls for customers that can be purchased and brought to private rooms for up to two hours.
However, Houston residents have organised a petition attracting more than 8,000 signatures, calling for such enterprises to be blocked from operating in the area.
The city's mayor, Sylvester Turner, has also criticised the plans, stating the business was “not the kind the city is seeking to attract.”
In a phone call with Houston TV station KPRC2, the company’s owner, Yuval Gavriel, said he was looking to resolve permit issues and win the mayor’s approval.
“We're ready as soon as we get the get-go,” he said. “We're legal people.
“We want to open peacefully and without opposition from any group, we want the blessing of the mayor.
“We don't want to bother anyone, we really just want to do everything clean.”
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