When Mitchell DeSouza opened his Virtuoso Tattoo studio four years ago in a strip shopping center along West Pipeline Road, he had no idea that his business would grow so quickly.
DeSouza, who also showcases paintings from various artists in his studio, wants to expand to a larger space to meet the needs of his clients.
“We are outgrowing this building; we are maxed out,” DeSouza said.
But last month, when DeSouza, 35, asked the City Council to approve his request for a specific use permit to relocate his business to 963 Melbourne Road near North East Mall, he was surprised when his request was denied.
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“My side of town has met its peak for growth. Businesses have blossomed [near the mall]. I want to be part of this growth,” he said.
Although the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the request on a 4-0 vote, the council voted 4-3 against it. DeSouza can bring the request back in six months if he chooses.
Councilman Larry Kitchens, who spoke against DeSouza’s request at the meeting, said in an interview that he has nothing against DeSouza or tattoo studios but that the area near North East Mall is “not the right location for that type of business.”
“You have to look at types of businesses that complement one another,” he said.
“It’s not that we just shut the door on him, but it was just that particular location. It’s my opinion based on feedback I got from citizens,” Kitchens said.
Kitchens pointed out that businesses near the mall include an Asian buffet, a travel agency and an AT&T store.
“We have zoning regulations, and his request required a zoning change. I wasn’t presented with a clear rationale as to why that location was essential for his business. I know that there are other vacant storefronts in Hurst.”
DeSouza, who has received Best of Hurst trophies from the Hurst Awards program, said he wants to stay in the city.
He got his start in tattooing when he came across old tattoo machines from the 1960s. He was selling items on eBay and realized that the machines were a rare find.
He had a passion for getting tattoos and decided to make his living creating them.
He started out as an apprentice in Arlington before moving to Fort Worth where he worked in several studios and decided to start his own business.
DeSouza grew up in the Hurst area and wanted to return to Hurst to start his business and raise his four children.
He saved money from construction jobs to open his studio.
“We give people the genuine concern and respect that they deserve. We wish the city would realize that they made a mistake,” DeSouza said.