The Tuscaloosa City Council accepted the surrendering of a business license from the infamous Masters Inn on McFarland Boulevard, which will shut down by February 15 of next year.

The recommendation to shut down the premises came from a cooperation between the Tuscaloosa Police Department and its code enforcement division and the City's Office of Urban Development. That division is responsible for managing business license procedures and processes, which would be the only way to revoke the license and shut the premises down completely.

Over the past several years, the Tuscaloosa Police Department has responded to multiple domestic assault and drug related calls on the premises which TPD Chief Brent Blankley said was "nonstop."

"I've worked for TPD for 16 years, and the day I started here we went to Masters Inn Economy," he said in a pre-council meeting last Tuesday. "It is nonstop. It needs to be shut down."

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The property has been the center of several prostitution stings by the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force. In a report of 12 calls made to TPD dispatch, officers saw six founded cases of prostitution. Each of those cases were attributed to first time offenders, who were not prosecuted and instead went through a sanctioned program. The last reported activity of prostitution was in July of this year.

This is in addition to several complaints and code violations including unsafe stairs, health code violations and bug infestations, illegal room occupation and more.

At the Tuesday night Council Meeting Bryan Winter, the attorney representing the owners of the property, attempted to halt the revocation by calling for a hearing, and suggested that once some preliminary matters were handled, this case could be taken to circuit court.

He cited that his clients felt their rights had been revoked. He claimed that this procedure outlined in the city code is violative of U.S. and Alabama constitutional law.

"With all due respect, we're not going to change our mind," said District 7 Councilman Cassius Lanier. "What's been going on at that establishment is wrong. I serve District 7, and I stand on revoking that license."

After a 15 minute recess, the parties agreed to an immediate surrendering of the business license, and tabling a revocation hearing for the license until February 15th. The end of the business license would therefore not be effective until either the current owner completed a transaction with the new buyers, or the closing date of February 15, whichever comes first.

Winter said that he expects the purchase to close sometime in January. The other part of this agreement would be that the City of Tuscaloosa would dismiss certain citations against the premises, and would pay the business' court cost, as Woodson stated would "put a little bow on it."

As of publishing, the lot is planned to be divided up by two separate buyers. The back half is being purchased by Richard Henry, owner of Druid City Properties, which he intends to turn into 100 efficiency apartments. As for the front half, the potential buyer intends to renovate the 36 units, remodel and rebrand it under a new name.

A major point emphasized by Maddox and District 6 Councilman John Faile in the pre-council meeting was to ensure this property did not transfer to anyone with any sort of relation to the current owners. Representatives reassured that there was no connection between the new and current owners.

"That place has been a center of criminal activity, that sexually abused human beings in our community repeatedly," Maddox said. "I want to ensure that, now that our law enforcement is working its way towards justice on that end, that what we do doesn't create a repeat of that in the future."

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