60 Rooms At Budgetel In East Ridge Expected To Reopen Soon

  • Thursday, March 30, 2023

Building 1 at an East Ridge hotel that was closed last November as a public nuisance is expected to reopen soon.

At a hearing on Thursday before Criminal Court Judge Boyd Paterson, officials said the hotel is awaiting final fire and health inspections. Judge Patterson also said security cameras need to be installed at the back of the property along the road leading to the 60-room Building 1.

Amish Patel, the hotel's chief operating officer, said it should take one to two weeks to hire new staff after the go ahead is given. He said previous staff members would not be included.

District Attorney Coty Wamp said the issue was "not about new paint or new bedsheets. It was always about the amount of crime there."

Judge Patterson said it is not realistic to expect there will not be any crime, but he said it should not be a "disproportionate amount of crime" as it was before.

The hotel wants to eventually reopen three other buildings at the site near Exit 1 of I-75.

The Patel group bought the hotel in 2015 when it was shut down over similar issues while operating as the Superior Creek Lodge.

The judge heard testimony from a fire and security specialist who said numerous new cameras have been installed, including ones with audio at the front desk and the guard desk.

Ernest Dixon said his Aspire Security firm will have 24/7 security with one guard per shift. He said it is the first contract in Tennessee for the Georgia firm.

Attorney Chris Clem asked that the hotel be able to accept cash from those who do not have credit cards. The judge said that would be allowed as long as the East Ridge Police are notified when that occurs.

Don Hopkins testified that he is involved with a ministry group that formerly rented a bloc of eight rooms at the Budgetel at $280 or $290 per month per room. He said that was a savings of $50 over the regular rate.

He said the group used the rooms so that homeless people could have shelter while getting back on their feet. He said six of those in the rooms are now in permanent housing.

Mr. Hopkins said poor individuals often do not use banks and are often unable to obtain credit cards.

As part of the order, the hotel is to screen for sex offenders and criminals. Mr. Patel said the firm will have software in place to do that.

Guests will not be able to stay longer than 120 days. Any stay after that will be a fine of $500 per day.

No one who is not a paid guest at the Budgetel will be allowed to be there from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Another court hearing in the case is set for May 1.

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