Building Commissioner: several area hotels ‘not equipped’ for extended stay

A shooting was reported Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 at the Country Hearth Inn and Suites at 2908 Goshen Road, near the Interstate 69 interchange.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –  It could be several more weeks before a hotel on Fort Wayne’s northwest side will be able to open its doors.

The Allen County Building Department condemned the Country Hearth Inn at 2908 Goshen Road, near Coliseum Boulevard and the Interstate 69 interchange. Building inspectors said they discovered electrical problems and filthy conditions, last Thursday. The building department has since released the hotel to contractors who are working to working to fix the wiring, cleaned out the rooms, and gut the building.

The move left dozens of people without a place to live. John Caywood, Allen County Building Commissioner, said the evacuation sheds light on a growing problem: “guests” who have lived in hotels for years.

“A lot of people are unable to find adequate housing and so this is the alternative,” said Caywood.

Caywood said Country Hearth Inn, and other hotels like it, are simply not designed for extended stay. There are no kitchenettes for people to cook and the only place to wash dishes is in the bathroom. Caywood said some hotels don’t have the electrical capability to accommodate multiple guests who are using the hotel rooms as apartments.

“If you’re running a hot plate with two items… the amperage that’s pulled through the electrical system was never designed to handle that,” he said.

Residents at Country Hearth Inn found a way to make it work. Most of the people evacuated from the building had lived there for quite some time, according to Caywood.  After years of living there, it took electrical wiring issues, to forced people out.

The building is condemned, rooms are being cleared out, and dozens of appliances are behind the hotel waiting to be tossed in the dumpster. However, there could be some light at the end of the tunnel. Caywood said the hotel is considering a total renovation.

“It’s about 30-years-old and it’s probably time for that,” said Caywood. “So I’m really hoping, for the community, that this is something the owners choose to do.”

If the building is remodeled, the hotel could be closed for several more months.

The building was cited for electrical violations, problems with the heating and air, and structural damage. The Allen County Health Department was also called in. A spokesperson with the health department said inspectors observed two rooms that appeared to have guests living in squalor. There are a total of 48 rooms in the hotel, according to Caywood.

Caywood said he is working with the city to see if they can implement an ordinance that would deter hotel managers form allowing guests to live in hotels for months at at time.