Northland News

Closed motels

Crackdown lauded, but issue now is vacant buildings

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Northland Community Council members agree that Columbus' crackdown on crime-plagued motels in the Northland area is a good thing.

Large-scale, highly visible commercial properties sitting vacant for months and months isn't, they also agreed during a wide-ranging discussion of the subject brought up at their July 1 meeting.

"I don't like boarded-up buildings," President Emmanuel V. Remy said in opening the topic.

By the same token, he said he even more intensely dislikes the prostitution, illegal drug sales and other criminal activities that led to the closing this year of Columbus Inn and Suites on Zumstein Drive and two motels nearby on East Dublin-Granville Road -- Red Carpet Inn and Super 8.

"I think it's good that those things are closed, but it brings up a bigger question, and that's what we do with these empty buildings," said Ken Gilbert, president of the Forest Park Civic Association.

Sharon Woods Civic Association President John Kirkpatrick wondered what mechanism might be in place to maintain these properties during their enforced closures.

The owners are probably the ones responsible for seeing to it that the hotels don't deteriorate during what has been a 12-month shutdown in the cases so far adjudicated, according to Remy.

The owners would be required, he added, to keep up the exterior appearance in accordance with city code.

"It's up to them whether or not they want to protect their asset," Remy said. "They obviously didn't care about the kind of clientele they brought in, so why would they care about the interior?"

"As far as I'm concerned, they can continue to close these places down," said Dave Cooper, Northland Area Business Association president. "I would rather have it vacant than to see it doing what it's doing."

Officials with two major annual events at the Ohio Expo Center, the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association auto show and the All American Quarter Horse Congress, have both removed the hotels and motels clustered around the Interstate 71 interchange at East Dublin-Granville Road from their lists of suggested places to stay, pointed out Ed Vanasdale of the Forest Park Civic Association.

He speculated that removing the more problem-plagued ones from the mix might bring back participants of those events at the fairgrounds.

Earlier in the meeting, Columbus police officers Scott Clinger and Larry Geis, the community liaisons to precincts that encompass the Northland area, were asked if the city's actions against the three hotels had prompted the operators of others to take steps against drawing the same kinds of punishment.

"Some are, some aren't," Clinger said.

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