A unanimous Tuscaloosa City Council has revoked the business license of a McFarland Boulevard motel over crime and safety concerns.
City leaders chose to close the hotel that once operated as Motel 6 – the right to use the franchise name was revoked in November – over the pleas of Tuscaloosa attorney Cam Parsons, who asked the council for patience and understanding.
“We’re asking for a second chance,” said Parsons, who is representing KPG Hotel Management of New Jersey, which purchased what was then Tuscaloosa’s only Motel 6 in mid-2019.
But after hearing the findings of a fire marshal, public health official and building inspector who, under questioning from Deputy City Attorney Jimbo Woodson, told of multiple violations – failing balconies, unsafe room conditions, deficient smoke detectors and the unpermitted conversion of one room to a permanent living space, among them – the city’s elected leaders were unmoved by Parsons’ request.
Parsons said he and his client are weighing an appeal in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court.
The most compelling reason behind the council’s decision was the criminal activity.
Tuscaloosa police officers responded to 695 total calls to the motel between May 2019, the month KPG Hotel Management purchased the property, and February 2022.
This far exceeded the activity of similar hotels nearby, such as the Super 8 by Wyndham less than a mile north on McFarland Boulevard, the EconoLodge Inn & Suites to the south of the Super 8, and the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson located across McFarland Boulevard from the Motel 6.
Combined, these three hotels saw a total of 458 police calls in the same May 2019-February 2022 time frame during which the motel required 695 responses – including 44 drug-related calls, 43 disturbances, 30 assaults, 27 thefts, and 33 domestic disturbance calls, among others – from police.
These calls included a June 2021 response to investigate the shooting of a two men over what investigators termed “involvement with narcotics” at the motel.
This led to the arrest of a Tuscaloosa man on charges of second-degree assault and a firearm possession violation.
And in August of that year, a four-hour standoff between a barricaded suspect and Tuscaloosa police ended peacefully but resulted in the shooting death of a dog and the arrest of a father and son on charges of first-degree burglary.
“That location is terrible,” said Tuscaloosa Police Chief Brent Blankley. “It’s a hindrance to society. We’re spending day after day at that location.
“We’re respectively asking you to close it down.”
Parsons attempted to sway the council by noting the amount of investment that KPG Hotel Management had made in the location since acquiring it.
According to the attorney’s calculations, the hotel company has sunk about $3 million in the property since acquiring it, including almost $140,000 on replacing the flooring in all the rooms, $172,000 on new room furnishings, $28,000 on new lighting and $22,000 on new bed packages.
He also noted, and officials with the Tuscaloosa County Health Department concurred, that a follow-up inspection revealed all of the health code violations had been corrected since they first were documented earlier this year.
“It’s not like they haven’t done anything,” Parsons said. “This is a problem they inherited. …
“You really need to think about what kind of message you’re sending to out-of-town investors who are willing to come here and spend some money.”
But first-term Councilman Cassius Lanier, who represents this area as part of District 7 and said his campaigned on promising to clean up the district, said he knew what message he was sending owners of this motel.
“What we’re telling them is you can’t come and be a slumlord and leave blight and think you can run a business,” Lanier said. “We’re not having it.”
Reach Jason Morton at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: McFarland Boulevard Motel 6: Tuscaloosa City Council revoke license