NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - A debate has sparked in Newport News over a proposed night club. The potential owner believes the club could be a entertainment hotspot, but some residents worry it would be a magnet for crime.
The club would occupy an old restaurant building on Jefferson Avenue in the Oyster Point area. This week the the city's Planning Commission voted not to recommend the project to Newport News City Council. Council will meet September 24 to vote on the night club permit.
The potential owner wants to breathe new life into the building that's been vacant since 2006, transforming it into a venue for jazz bands, comedians and dancing. He says the transformation would also breathe life into the surrounding area.
"In this neighborhood, there are a lot of kids that attend Christopher Newport University. I think they would enjoy it," said nearby resident Don Whorley. "I really don't have a problem with it to be honest with you."
It would also be a convenient place for locals to party -- the nightclub would be walking distance from an apartment complex.
"In an apartment complex like this, people could walk there, and now they have to drive far away to Virginia Beach or something," said resident Jacob Kephart.
But other local residents aren't so sure that is a good thing. Some worry a new nightclub will bring more violence to the area. Last month, a woman was shot and killed in the parking lot of a Newport News night club called The Alley.
"I think we have enough night clubs already in Newport news, and having one so close to my house would bring the wrong element," said resident Tom Lonergran. "You have people who are intoxicated coming out of a club, things like that."
This isn't the first attempt to set up a club in the old restaurant on Jefferson Ave. Another one proposed would have been called Club Liana's, but it was shot down by police earlier this year. Investigators cautioned the city not to do business with the owner. The former Newport News Police Chief even submitted a letter to city saying the owner had outstanding parking tickets and owed money to the City of Hampton.
Another possible red flag for the new proposal: police believe the person proposing this new club is connected to the person who wanted to open Club Liana's earlier this year.
If you would like to see the planning commission documents and proposal for the club, click here .
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