NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office entered a Consent Judgement with the owners of two Market Street hotels.
According to a release from the District Attorney’s Office, the agreement with the Budgetel Inn and the Red Carpet Inn (formerly Travelodge) is in response to a lawsuit filed this morning by the DA’s office that the two hotels were operating as public nuisances. The lawsuit states they were in violation of Chapter 19 of the North Carolina General Statutes.
The owners of the properties have agreed to make several changes related to how they run their businesses. These changes include: requiring all guests present a photo ID and credit card with matching names, not renting to local residents, requiring all guests have a complete registration card for all vehicles and display a parking pass in those vehicles, keeping a hotel guest registry available for law enforcement, having an on-site manager 24 hours a day, both hotels agreed to random inspections by Fire Marshal code compliance, and install video cameras that hold thirty days of footage that will be available for law enforcement to view at anytime. The owner, Sanjeev Badhiwala, has already taken measures to install over 50 video cameras between the two hotels, the release said.
In addition, the properties are not allowed to have separate lounges or nightclubs or other similar businesses inside the hotels that could attract large or unruly crowds of people. However, restaurants are allowed inside the hotels and may sell alcohol.
The release said the Consent Judgement applies to the current owners of the properties individually, but will also be filed with the Register of Deeds office so it will permanently apply to the actual properties, in case they change ownership.
After the Order was entered by Senior Resident Superior Court Judge W. Allen Cobb, Jr., District Attorney Ben David said, “I am glad that the owners of these two hotels have decided to enter into this agreement to make whatever changes are necessary to turn these properties around and make them into places where people can come and feel safe and enjoy everything that the City of Wilmington has to offer.”
Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous added, “We are looking forward to seeing changes made at these two hotels, and we hope that the other hotels that we have issued notices to will see this and follow suit and agree with us that they need to change their properties as well.”
Four other hotels have been issued notices by the DA’s office and the Wilmington Police Department. Those include The Ramada Inn, The Red Roof Inn, America’s Best Value Inn, and The Carolinian. The DA’s Office, WPD, and City Attorney’s Office will be taken further action with three of those hotels in the next few months. Recently, The Red Roof Inn was sold to new owners, so the action is being delayed while changes are being made to the management team.
Ben David says, “The clear message is this: We want legitimate businesses to succeed. The changes that were brought about today came after months of negotiations and work. The other four establishments need to follow suit to ensure that they are running clean and safe places for all to enjoy.”