News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Joe Walker, The Paducah Sun, Ky.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 4, 2004 --PADUCAH, Ky. -- The former Valu-Lodge at 727 Joe Clifton Drive is expected to reopen in April as a 148-room Country Hearth Inn.
"It will be completely renovated," said Sushan Anand, president of Sunbest Management of Chattanooga, Tenn. "It will resemble a brand new hotel. When we get done with it, it will be a brand new product with a brand new image and a brand new name." He said there will be 15 employees.
The motel closed last year after hundreds of city building code violations were found.
Sunbest will manage the motel for Mortgage Management, another Chattanooga firm owned by Anand. Mortgage Management bought the property in August for $534,000 at public auction after previous owner Paducah Motel Inc. fell into financial trouble. It owed $986,000 to Mortgage Management, its largest creditor and holder of the motel mortgage.
At one time, Mortgage Management owned and ran the motel when it was the Holiday Inn, Arand said. The motel opened in the 1950s as a Holiday Inn.
Valu-Lodge closed in April as part of a settlement with the city of Paducah after inspectors cited 330 code violations in June 2002 stemming from complaints by visitors attending the American Quilter's Society Quilt Show and Contest.
The motel is one of 10 Country Hearth Inns being developed nationwide over the next five years under a new agreement between Sunbest and the Country Hearth Inn firm. The Paducah motel will be the second to open. The first is in Chattanooga.
The agreement with Country Hearth was struck because of the firm's reputation for cleanliness, said Anand, a co-founder of The Asian American Hotel Owners Association. "I have been in the hotel industry for 30 years and have seen practically all of the budget and mid-priced brands."
Country Hearth operates some 50 motels from Texas to North Carolina, advertising mid-priced, limited-service motels serving corporate and leisure travel. The motels have a bed-and-breakfast atmosphere with Early American decor and complimentary breakfast.
City Inspection Director Joel Scarbrough said Mortgage Management has been renovating the property since acquiring it. Construction and electrical work still must be approved by the city and plumbing by state and local health department inspectors, he said.
"They're still not ready to open, but they're much closer than they were," Scarbrough said. "They're doing more work than they have to do. I think opening in April is very doable."
A dilapidated swimming pool, one of the worst safety problems and eyesores of Valu-Lodge, has been filled and covered to create a patio, he said. Workers also have made roof improvements, and replaced walls and carpeting that sustained water damage.
The former owners agreed to close it as part of the settlement of an in-progress hearing before the city's nuisance code enforcement board. They agreed to pay a $1,000 fine, $8,000 less than Scarbrough requested.
-----To see more of The Paducah Sun, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.paducahsun.com
(c) 2004, The Paducah Sun, Ky. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.