Demolition of the Super 8 Motel is moving forward, now that the city council has appropriated funds to formally purchase the property.
In its first meeting with new council members Barbara Ramsey and Benming “Benny” Zhang, the council unanimously agreed to spend $3 million from the Fiscal 2017 Sales Tax Budget to buy the property, demolish the existing motel and improve the site.
In January the city council voted to allow City Manager Marvin Collins to finalize the contract to buy the motel, which was built in 1963 and is located at 1233 Richmond Road near the Richmond Road-Monticello Avenue-Lafayette Street intersection in Midtown.
The money is being appropriated now because it was unclear when the city could close on the property, according to a city memo. The closing date, which is also the day all guests must be out of the building, is Aug. 22.
Before the vote, City Councilman Doug Pons said he felt the council would represent the interests of citizens when they make their decision.
“It’s a lot of money, but future opportunities will be there and we’ll see the return on that,” he said.
Mayor Paul Freiling agreed, adding that leveling the site could help make the Williamsburg Shopping Center, which is across from the motel on Richmond Road, more appealing for redevelopment.
“It’s no secret that, as you drive down the Richmond Road corridor, whether it’s coming into town or leaving town, this is one of the first or last impressions our guests get,” Freiling said. “Removing it will help simply by the removal.”
Zhang and Freiling thanked Peter Walentisch, the city’s director of Human and Social Services, for ensuring people living in the Super 8 could find new housing.
“I think, in a way, it’s turning a possible negative situation into a positive by getting help to those people,” Freiling said.
Collins said the people currently in the motel are “transient” and more like tourists, rather than the residents who were there earlier this year.