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Crime-ridden hotel demolished to make room for development

Demolition began today on an infamous Charlotte motel that has long been a hotspot for prostitution, drugs and robbery. City police are hoping the demolition will reduce crime in the area and the owners of the property hope the city will pitch in to cover the costs. WFAE's Julie Rose has more. Local developer Stephen Barker bought The Royal Inn at Archdale Drive and I-77 three years ago with plans to build a new hotel and shops. But the recession got in the way and Barker was stuck with an empty crime magnet. "So what we did is we basically took out all the interiors of all the rooms so no one could live there, and we boarded the building up," says Barker. "Then we mothballed it for just a second so we could get our act together on the rest of the development." His plans are still moving slowly, since money for new construction remains hard to come by and few stores are looking to open new locations. But just recently Barker's company, the Catellus Group, managed to round up a loan to at least tear down the motel. The demolition started today and will cost more than $300,000. The Catellus Group has applied for a $50,000 grant from the city to help with the demolition, because it will mean less crime in the area. City Councilman Warren Turner says the new development will be good for the neighborhood, but, "I'm more excited about the fact that it's coming down." "We've actually been working on this my entire time on the council," Turner adds. "It was just a blighted area. And it was not safe, under no circumstances." Just closing the Royal Inn led to a 40 percent reduction in crime the first year, according to the police sergeant in charge of the division. He expects that decline to continue when the old motel is converted into a vacant lot. But it will be at least a year before Barker expects the economy will improved enough to start construction on his new 17-acre development, which will ultimately include condos, shops and a hotel.