Skip to main content
Camilla Care

In 1989, downtown Wilmington, NC saw more bars and clubs

Vaseline 1 month ago

In the late 1980s, downtown Wilmington underwent a revival. It was a shift from a shopping area to an area of ​​boutiques, restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

However, these last two met with some resistance.

According to a story in the April 21, 1989 Wilmington Morning Star, some residents and fellow downtown businesses urged the city to change zoning laws to restrict bars and nightclubs.

The co-owner of an insurance agency on Market Street said the change was needed to make downtown “more uplifting and historic.” Chatter continued plans for a new private club called “21” at 21 Market St., where rumors circulated that it would be an all-gay club and feature male strippers.

Owners said this would not be the case and that the club would cater to gays and straights.

The setback left the Downtown Area Revitalization Effort, or DARE (now Wilmington Downtown Inc.), in a quandary, as it succeeded in getting restrictions to drive out topless bars and adult stores but welcomed the opening of bars and nightclubs.

Reflections in the city center: Wilmington drops riff raff for Riverwalk

The co-owner of bar, nightclub and newsstand Front Street News said places like theirs sparked downtown’s comeback after the loss of major stores like Sears, Belk and JCPenney.

“It takes a lot of energy to not only make a business fly, but to revitalize an area that has been lacking momentum,” says Perry Fisher, co-owner of Front Street News.

The nightlife in the city center is still lively with a number of bars and clubs.