Five months after the city of East Ridge condemned and shut down the Superior Creek Lodge, the 42-year-old motel has a new owner who plans to refurbish and reopen the extended-stay hotel under the Budgetel franchise by this fall.
JDH Developers, an Atlanta-based hotel company that specializes in upgrading older hotels, acquired the shuttered Superior Creek Lodge on Friday for $1.4 million. John Patel, the CEO of JDH Developers, said Monday the new owners expect to spend another $1.5 million to $2 million to upgrade and refurbish the 280-room motel at 1410 N. Mack Smith Road.
"We're going to take everything out and deal with some structural issues to bring it back up to code and back on the market as an extended-stay hotel, hopefully within six months or so," Patel said. "We've started to take out all of the furniture and the floors, and we'll develop our plans over the next couple of weeks about how to upgrade and reopen this motel."
The East Ridge motel opened in 1973 as a Days Inn motel and was bought by Kennesaw, Ga., group Superior Creek Lodge II LLC, in 2006 for $3 million. As an extended-stay hotel under the Superior Creek label, the motel was cited and sued by the city of East Ridge for several safety and building code violations in 2010. Last September, the city condemned Superior Creek Lodge, forcing the immediate evacuation of about 750 people who lived there.
East Ridge city building inspectors said the exterior balconies on the aging buildings presented a safety risk. The former owner had 180 days to make the improvements to keep its current use as an extended-stay hotel. But in a statement, motel owner David Gysin said he decided instead to sell the facility.
"After nine years of being a business owner in East Ridge, I will miss the close working relationships and friendships that I have developed throughout that time," he said in a statement to the East Ridge News Online.
East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert said Monday he is glad to see the abandoned motel come back to life.
"The buildings are in very poor shape in terms of structural issues, and we hope to work with the new owners to make sure these problems are addressed," he said. "Certainly, we're happy whenever anyone wants to come in and make improvements in East Ridge."
Superior Creek Lodge became home to many low-income and transient families before it was shut down. East Ridge's city code doesn't allow residents to stay in an extended-stay hotel for more than 90 days, although the facility could be grandfathered under older, less restrictive requirements, Lambert said.
According to the Hamilton County Assessor's office, the 5-acre motel property includes 144,481 square feet of building space in four different structures. It was appraised by the county in 2011 when the facility was still an active extended-stay motel to be worth more than $3 million — or more than twice what JDH paid for the site.
JDH operates more than 3,000 hotel rooms in 25 properties in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin and Ohio. The company typically sells properties after they are built or refurbished and business is improved, Patel said.
Exit 1 in East Ridge, where the Superior Creek Lodge is located, is being upgraded with the addition of a Bass Pro Shop and other new developments on the east side of Interstate 75. The East Ridge exit also is the first exit in Tennessee from those traveling north from Georgia, which just added a new motel room tax across the state to help fund road and transportation improvements.
"This is a well-located site that we think will prove attractive once we are able to complete our property upgrade," Patel said.
Contact staff writer Dave Flessner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6340.