Portage commission nixes purchase of shuttered motel

2013-05-16T18:00:00Z 2013-05-16T23:55:12Z Portage commission nixes purchase of shuttered motelJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The city's Redevelopment Commission voted down the purchase of the shuttered Travel Inn during a special meeting Thursday afternoon.

Mayor James Snyder, who chairs the commission, wanted the commission's approval to purchase the motel, which was closed by the city in January due to numerous fire code violations.

John Shepherd, the city's economic development adviser, said the city received two appraisals and recommended the commission approve spending up to the lowest appraisal, $725,000, when the building goes up for auction on Tuesday. Shepherd said the building was sold last year for $1.1 million during a tax sale.

Member Greg Lach motioned to approve the recommendation. Snyder seconded the motion. Members Sue Lynch, Susan Kelly-Johnson and Steve Nelson voted against the purchase.

"It was a real struggle," Kelly-Johnson said about the decision, adding purchasing properties such as this is what the commission should be doing.

"We only have so much money," she said, noting the commission has committed to several other projects.

Nelson agreed, saying the $725,000 was a "big chunk of money" to come from the commission's budget at this time.

"The Travel Inn is a stick-built building built 40 years ago that needs to be torn down," said Snyder. "The only way to ensure that it would no longer be a blight and crime ridden facility was for the Redevelopment Commission to demolish it like we did the Castaway and Don’s motels on Route 20.

"Since the Commission decided not to purchase Travel Inn, we will make sure that we demand the utmost from the building's new owners. We can now only hope that the new owners are responsible and have the same concern for a better Portage as we do," Snyder said.

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