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Businessman Wants To Open First Raleigh Adult Nightclub In 15 Years

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A Raleigh businessman hopes to get the city to approve his plans for an adult entertainment club near Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Stephen Leonard, who currently owns The Office Night Club in downtown Raleigh, wants to open a club called The Runway on two acres of land on Mount Herman Road, which he says would be marketed to an upscale crowd.

Leonard says the project will cost about $2 million and could be as large as 20,000 square feet.

The Triangle currently has 12 adult entertainment clubs, but Raleigh has not granted a permit for a new one since 1992 when it allowed The Doll House to locate on Yonkers Road.

At least four proposals for new clubs in Wake County were rejected because of restrictive codes. Raleigh does not allow adult entertainment clubs to locate within 2,000 feet of residential areas, offices, churches, day cares, schools or other adult clubs.

"I think it's time for a change," Leonard said. "I think Raleigh is ready for a change."

But not everyone agrees. Barbara Mangum and her husband own Triangle Equipment, which is next door to the proposed site. She has been there for 25 years and has fought this type of business before.

"There are respectable businesses, residential areas close by," Mangum said. "It's not something I want to be subjected to, nor do I want my employees to be subjected to."

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says while the city cannot stop adult nightclub businesses from operating, it can make it difficult.

"The city does not favor adult establishments at all," Meeker said. "But we cannot ban them outright because of the Constitution. We just about ban them. We allow them in very few places."

Leonard says he expects some opposition along the way.

"I'm sure there's going to be some bumps in the road," he said. "But as long as we're smart and we do what we're supposed to do, hopefully everything will get approved."

Ultimately, the Raleigh Board of Adjustment will decide whether to grant a permit. Its next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 14.

If approved, Leonard says he plans to open in spring 2006.


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