Friday, January 2, 2004

Square to anchor Monmouth

County government offices will reside there

By Emily Hagedorn
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] The Centerfold Lounge, 1034 Monmouth St. in Newport, is one of the properties on Monmouth Street to be razed to make room for Campbell County offices.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
NEWPORT - As Newport moves forward with plans to revitalize Monmouth Street, city and county administrators hope a new government square will become a centerpiece for the avenue.

"It will be the south anchor on Monmouth Street, with Newport on the Levee being the north anchor," said Robert Horine, Campbell County administrator.

The county is finalizing plans to move the fiscal court, health department and other county administrative offices to the 11th and Monmouth Street location.

The $5.5 million project includes razing the site's current buildings, which house the Centerfold Lounge, a Dairy Mart, EGC Corp. and the Cecil Clark Cutlery Co. Construction is expected to begin this year, Horine said.

Horine said none of the buildings was taken under eminent domain. Four owners have signed over their land, while the other two have signed purchase agreements.

Horine and Newport Mayor Thomas Guidugli said the decision to take over these buildings was not because the adult club was there.

"The fact that the Centerfold was there is just coincidental," Horine said. "The key thing was it was the site ideal for governmental uses."

The Centerfold Lounge is one of three remaining adult clubs in Newport, a dramatic drop from the 17 clubs there in the early 1980s.

The lounge's owner could not be reached for comment.

For the Cecil Clark Cutlery Co. and the EGC Corp., a general contracting business, the county's desire to get the site accelerated the businesses' plans to relocate.

The cutlery company has moved to 833 Monmouth St., and EGC Corp. is still in its building, leasing it from the county until it's razed.

"We had already had it planned (to move)," said Kendal Dickerson, part owner and manager of the cutlery company. "It just moved our plans pretty fast."

Dairy Mart's closing comes after more than 15 years at the site. The store's last day is today. While it won't relocate, employees are transferring to other Dairy Marts.

"We do a lot of business, and it was a great location," said Isabell Brown, a sales associate. "I just don't see why they needed the location."

City manager Phillip Ciafardini noted Newport's City Hall is across the street.

"We've worked very closely with the county," he said.

For at least the last 20 years, Newport has been revamping Monmouth Street, Guidugli said.

City officials said they are hopeful that the complex will draw people and businesses to that end of the street.

"It would be good access for everybody, good visibility," Guidugli said. "So as Monmouth Street is upgraded, the city is upgraded."

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