Owners of Cheetah Gentlemen’s Club respond to county’s plan to acquire property through eminent domain
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County’s Board of Commissioners voted last week to begin the process of acquiring the Cheetah Gentlemen’s Club at 143 South College Road through a process called eminent domain.
The process involves the government paying the owners a fair market value in exchange for ownership of the property for public use. County Manager Chris Coudriet says the county needs the land for additional parking for the recently opened government center.
Attorney Mike Barber represents the owners of the club. He says ownership did not find out about the vote until the next day.
“At no point have we been contacted by anyone that identified themselves as representing New Hanover County,” Barber said.
Barber says the club is more than willing to share its parking lot with the county so the club can stay open. The club is open from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., while the government center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We would eagerly- and would begin tomorrow- allowing them 74 parking spaces at our location for no cost to the taxpayer,” said Barber.
Staff are willing to share the spaces with the county free of charge. Barber says tearing down the building could be expensive and provide little benefit.
“We have 74 parking spaces that we would gladly allow them to use,” Barber said. “There’s also the building on the property. But if the building were torn down at a cost to the taxpayer, it will be well over $2.3 million. If that were torn down, you’re only gaining an additional 12 to 20 parking spaces.”
WECT reached out to a county spokesperson about the club’s offer. The spokesperson said the county could not comment further on the situation and referred to a statement made by Coudriet last week.
“The county identified a need to expand parking facilities to better accommodate our citizens when visiting the newly constructed government center. Exercising eminent domain to acquire the neighboring property is a legal and measured step towards fulfilling this need. The law ensures that the property owner will receive fair market value, aligning with our responsibility to act in a balanced and lawful manner,” said Coudriet.
State Treasurer Dale Folwell says the county should accept the club’s offer or consider buying back some of the land where the former government center was.
Barber says the owners of Cheetah Gentlemen’s Club are hopeful to reach a solution with the county.
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