Pickets protest plans to close El Dorado

Supporters of strip club rally outside City Hall

May 12, 2001|By Tom Pelton and Allison Klein | Tom Pelton and Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

About 50 supporters of the El Dorado strip club gathered outside Baltimore City Hall yesterday evening to complain about the city's plans to close it down for an urban renewal project.

City officials had planned to shut down the club at 322 W. Baltimore St. yesterday to make room for apartments as part of Baltimore's $350 million rebuilding of the west side of downtown.

But the city moved the date back a week, to Friday, to allow a court hearing Monday on whether to allow the club to remain open until July 11 or later.

Kenneth A. Jackson, manager of the club, and dozens of his supporters chanted outside City Hall, holding signs that read, "Support Black Businesses" and "No Black People Wanted Downtown to Own Any Businesses."

Jackson, whose family has run the club for 27 years, said: "If African-Americans are not going to be included in downtown development, we want to know why."

The Centerpoint retail and apartment complex that will replace Jackson's club is being built by the Bank of America and a minority-owned construction company, the Harold A. Dawson Co. of Atlanta.

Mayor Martin O'Malley pledged on March 26 to help place at least five minority-owned retail stores and a restaurant or entertainment venue in downtown areas the city is redeveloping.

The El Dorado's owners filed a lawsuit against the city on Thursday, seeking $3 million in damages for "breach of contract" in failing to follow through on a proposal to move the club to 19-21 S. Gay St., near the Holocaust Memorial.

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