BROOK PARK, Ohio — Demolition has begun on a shuttered hotel with a sordid history. The former Travelodge Hotel, which was home to a highly publicized raid by Brook Park and Cuyahoga County authorities in 2016, has long been a a thorn in the city's side dating back to at least 2014.
Demolition crews unceremoniously began gashing out large portions of the dilapidated hotel on Monday morning as the hulking structure was pulled apart. Before demolition began, Brook Park police officers cleared the U-shaped building one more time.
For old time's sake.
From 2014 through 2015, police had been called to the hotel-turned-drug-den more than 650 times, which was nearly 6 times more than the next hotel with the highest number of police calls for service. According to a 2016 court filing, conditions at the former Travelodge included bed bugs, bodily fluids in the common areas, a mold-filled pool and general disarray.
The illegal activity going on at the hotel was even worse, authorities said. Drug sales and use, prostitution, shootings, bar fights, felonious assaults at least one fatal heroin overdose were listed in the 2016 court filing. Even more infuriating for local and county officials was the allegation that the owners' attempt at skirting their financial responsibilities of the property, which had more than $23,000 in delinquent property taxes at the time, by repeatedly changing the name of the business entity that runs the hotel, according to court documents.
Visually, legally and financially, the hotel was an absolute mess. Owners of nearby businesses like Cap'n Taco felt the brunt of it.
"The evening times were the scariest," said owner Cathy Dadisman. "There were a few times where I would have to call the police to handle a situation because they weren't always easy to deal with. Brook Park police were constantly monitoring the situations going on. That tells you a lot right there."
The unsavory characters that frequented the hotel routinely caused issues at Dadisman's business and also prompted safety concerns for employees leaving at the end of the night, she said.
"There were ones that would roam over, especially at night, when we'd have to walk to our car. They would come banging on the back door," Dadisman said.
After the county prosecutor's office was granted the necessary injunction to have the hotel shut down, the property remained in a state of limbo through 2019. Growing tired of the owner's broken promises to renovate and remediate the property, another criminal complaint was filed in 2019. Squatters and vagrants had gained access to the property and scrappers had a field day stealing precious metals inside.
Dadisman said squatters had been living in the dark corners of the shuttered motel up until demolition began on Monday.
Eventually, the city began in February 2020 the legal process of having the building demolished and the nuisance abated. When demolition crews arrived on site on Monday, it was the best anniversary present that Dadisman and Cap'n Taco could have asked for.
"We did celebrate our 45th anniversary on [Monday]," Dadisman said. "Yay, finally! Whether or not anything else was going [to be built there] or not, it didn't matter. Finally, it's going to be gone."