DA: Owner of two Market Street hotels agrees to make improvements

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The Budgetel on Market Street in Wilmington
The Budgetel on Market Street in Wilmington

Two Market Street hotels – the Budgetel Inn and Red Carpet Inn – entered into an agreement with the New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office this week to make several changes that authorities hope will promote a better environment at the hotels.  The agreement is part of an ongoing crime-prevention effort at hotels and motels along the Market Street corridor.

According to District Attorney Ben David, the judgment was in response to a lawsuit filed Monday by his office alleging that the two hotel properties were operating as public nuisances.  Senior resident Superior Court Judge W. Allen Cobb Jr. entered the order for the consent judgment Monday morning.

The action comes several months after David announced that his office would be pursuing cases against several hotels that have been plagued by drugs, prostitution and violence.  David made that announcement along with Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous during a press conference about a fatal shooting at the Carolinian Inn off Market Street in December 2015. The district attorney’s office and the police department joined forces with City of Wilmington attorneys to address the elevated pattern of criminal activity along the Market Street corridor.

David said the owner of the properties agreed to make several changes to his businesses including: requiring all guests to present a photo ID and matching credit card with the same name; not renting to local residents; requiring all guests to complete a registration card for all vehicles and display a parking pass inside those vehicles;  keeping a hotel guest registry available for law enforcement; having an on-site manager 24 hours a day; random inspections by the New Hanover County Fire Marshal’s office for code compliance; and installation of video cameras to be made available for viewing by law enforcement.

The owner of the two properties has already taken measures to install more than 50 video cameras between the two hotels, David said. The hotel properties are prohibited from having separate lounges or nightclubs or other similar businesses inside the hotels, which could attract large, unruly crowds of people, David said. Restaurants are allowed inside the hotel and may sell alcohol.

The judgment will also be filed with the register of deeds’ office, so the action will be permanently attached to the properties as well as the ownership.

Four other Market Street hotels – the Ramada Inn, the Red Roof Inn, America’s Best Value Inn, and the Carolinian Inn – have also been issued notices from the district attorney’s office, David said.

David’s office, along with the Wilmington Police Department and the City of Wilmington attorney’s office, will pursue actions involving three of those remaining hotels in the next few months. Due to a change in ownership, action has been delayed in the case of the Red Roof Inn.

“The clear message is this: We want legitimate businesses to succeed. The changes that were brought about today came after months of negotiations and hard work. The other four establishments need to follow suit to ensure that they are running clean and safe places for all to enjoy,” David said.

Evangelous said the police department is looking forward to seeing the changes made by the two hotels.

“We hope the other hotels that we have issued notices to will see this and follow suit and agree with us that they need to change the properties, as well,” Evangelous said.