It’s long been one of the most incongruous sights around Charlotte’s fast-growing airport: A low-slung building off Wilkinson Boulevard with parking tucked discreetly in the back, emblazoned with the bright yellow words “Adult Super Store.”
As Charlotte Douglas International has grown, it’s bought surrounding land, including the neighborhood behind the adult store at Wilkinson Boulevard and Barry Drive. The purchases are typically authorized by the city and made with airport funds, which are largely eligible for federal reimbursement.
But the adult store hung on at its high-profile location near the new airport entrance, adjacent to new airport rental car maintenance and parking facilities, long after the neighborhood behind it was torn down to make way for more airport facilities.
In addition to airport travelers, commuters heading to and from Gaston County also frequent that stretch of Wilkinson. One of those commuters recently noticed that the store looked vacant and asked me to check in on it.
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Turns out the city purchased the 2.3-acre parcel in January for $755,000. City Council approved the purchase as part of the airport’s master plan, which calls for Charlotte Douglas to own land north and south of the runways.
The Keeners, a couple who owned the property, acquired it in 1994 for $22,500, according to Mecklenburg County real estate records.
The Adult Super Store parcel is just one of hundreds of pieces of property Charlotte Douglas has acquired in recent decades as its noise profile extends further north, south and west. In 2013, the airport embarked on a $35 million project to buy the neighborhood south of its western runway, between Steele Creek Road and Interstate 485. That 370-acre purchase will cover more than 100 houses when it’s completed.