Left, Ken Koontz; facade of Excelsior Club in undated James Peeler photo.
June 5, 2018
Ken Koontz opened today’s Open Forum with an update on the status of the shuttered Excelsior Club. Koontz was a part-owner of the Beatties Ford Road institution in the 1980s.
The nightclub was a gathering spot for the black community during segregation. It was where civil rights leaders plotted strategy, where white politicians came to curry votes, where workaday people came to unwind. As a business, it was severely damaged by the desegregation that opened other, fancier (and mostly white-owned) venues to its regular customers.
All of that history was on the table as Koontz outlined prospects for the property, which is now owned by N.C. Rep. Carla Cunningham, the widow of former proprietor Pete Cunningham. While the exterior of the building is covered by historic landmark designation, Cunningham reportedly has filed notice that, in a year, would allow her to file for demolition of the buiding. While Koontz did not report exact financial details, the presentation and discussion appeared to suggest that around $1 million would be required just to pay off financial obligations and bring the building up to current building codes.
Other speakers chimed in later on other subjects during this Open Forum.
In the video below, Koontz’s presentation begins at minute 9:50.