Questions remain about site of Albany fatal shooting

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Questions remain about the site of a fatal shooting in Albany that took the life of an Afghan war veteran. The city says the private club was operating illegally, while the owner begs to differ.

City officials took swift action by cutting the power and issued a cease and desist order to the Lounge @ 117 on North Lake Avenue. The city says the club was always on their radar, even before the fatal shooting

“There should have been no one in that building,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “It did not have a certificate of occupancy, and it was not legally operating.”

However, the owner of the Lounge says the city is wrong. “I have been in compliance since day one with my business. It’s been licensed, and I’ve been given a certificate of occupancy,” said Cornelius Banks.

The Lounge @ 117 is owned by Clee Properties, a Selkirk-based limited liability company. Cornelius Banks purchased the building back in 2016. He says his business is a place where private organizations hold events: “It’s a private social club and we are not open to the public but we have members. The members come in we watch TV, socialize, and have drinks. I also have a liquor license.”

Banks says that before the shutdown, his business had a clean track record. “I have never had a ticket or any incidents whatsoever,” he said. “The police have never come to my place of business.”

Through the Freedom of Information Law, NEWS10 received documents from the city of Albany indicating that they issued a stop-work order to the Lounge in June 2020. The city says they issued it after the owner’s original permit, submitted in 2017, was deemed invalid.

City officials claimed the owner didn’t follow protocols and never corrected the issues. They say that the Lounge was also issued a code violation in 2020 for not operating without proper permits. According to the city, they also issued a code violation on the night of the shooting where they determined the building was unsafe.

Banks says that two weeks after his permit was denied, he submitted a social club permit. He told NEWS10 that that permit was approved. As for the code violations, Banks didn’t deny them, but said he believes the city is trying to shut him down.

The Albany Code Enforcement’s next inspection of the property is set for October 22.

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