|By Seth Burkett, The Decatur Daily|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jul. 29, 2005 - Marble floors that guests walked across in 1965 as they checked into Decatur's first modern motel are now being torn up and carted off, sold along with the spiral staircase, chandelier, and other fixtures that would go to waste when the lobby building comes crashing down.
The former Days Inn contains a restaurant and an upstairs ballroom that might have seated 500 people at one time -- the worn-out floor could never support them nowadays.
"This was the finest hotel in town at one time. We're going to try to revitalize it," said Robert Baker, a spokesman for Mike and R.C. Patel, owners of Atlanta-based Diplomat Hotels, which purchased the 120-room motel at 810 Sixth Ave. N.E. in May.
Blake Robbins, vice president of business and work-force development for the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce, said the property has potential.
"What he (Patel) told me is that he wanted to make this an executive-stay facility, and I think the location is perfect for that," he said.
"It's going to take a little time, but it's going to look a lot better," Robbins said of the building, which he said has become an eyesore since its closing more than a year ago.
Baker said plans for the premises involve a partial demolition, tearing down the main lobby and at least 14 guest-rooms facing Church Street, and filling in the Olympic-size swimming pool with something other than water.
The destruction will leave an L-shaped motel with extra space on the property, which covers the square block bounded by Eighth Avenue and Church and Lafayette streets. The extra space may be leased long-term for a business, such as a restaurant or drugstore, Baker said.
The remaining guestrooms will be renovated and filled with new furniture, he said, and additions to the building will include a tapered roof and a smaller lobby with a canopy.
Baker said Diplomat Hotels is waiting on permits before beginning any demolition or construction.
"It was a great hotel 40 years ago, and we want to take this eyesore and turn it around so it will be something positive," he said.
While he believes the hotel will reopen as a franchise, he does not know what name will be appearing on the sign.
The hotel originally opened as the Decatur Inn, but became a Days Inn franchise after the owners filed bankruptcy in 1987. The facility closed after losing its Days Inn franchise in 2004.
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