Tenants move out of Brewer inn

Posted Feb. 15, 2010, at 8:23 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — The owner of the New Stable Inn on Wilson Street has failed to pay his mortgage, so the company that holds the note — Twin City Rodeways Inc. — is taking ownership.

The inn closed on Jan. 25 after high winds ripped off a portion of its roof. City officials ordered the building be evacuated until the damage was repaired.

Some of the 25 tenants who resided at the inn, which is owned by Massachusetts resident Farhat Cheema, spent Monday morning removing the last of their belongings.

“Cheema defaulted on the mortgage, and Paul [Means] picked up the note,” John Dudley, property manager for Means Investment Co. of Bangor, said Monday while standing in the lobby of the motel as tenants removed their items. “We’re here to make sure everybody has access to their belongings.”

The fate of the 69-room motel building is still up in the air, he said.

“No final decisions have been made on if Paul is going to take the building down,” Dudley said. “He’s had discussions with the city about his options. It may be worth more as a lot.”

The fact that a black tarp covers the area of the roof that was ripped off last month may be a sign of what’s to come, he indicated.

“If you’re tearing the building down, you’re not going to pay for the roof,” Dudley said.

When strong winds damaged the roof three weeks ago, it was the second time in a little more than three years that part of the roof was blown off.

Winds in October 2006 caused the red metal roof of the inn to become unstable and then rip off in large sections. Those roof sections were never properly fixed and the holes in the covering leaked, said both Assistant Manager James Smith and Brewer Fire Chief Rick Bronson after the most recent incident.

“There is some water that had come down through” the roof and is visible inside the building, Smith has said. “You can see the roof is sagging in certain places. There is certainly reason to be concerned about the building and occupancy of the building.”

Both times the motel had roof problems, it was evacuated and city leaders arrived at the scene to ensure that the motel occupants, most of whom pay weekly to live at the establishment, had a safe place to stay, City Manager Steve Bost said.

“I saw firsthand the deplorable conditions of the Stable Inn,” he said at the Feb. 9 City Council meeting. “I walked through that motel room by room. Most of those people are better off being in another hotel or apartment than being in that hotel.”

Leo Cookson, who identified himself as a motel worker, said the recent problem with the building’s roof did not change any safety issues at the New Stable Inn. He stood with Dudley in the lobby on Monday watching as the former tenants moved items.

“The building is secure, it’s dry, and there is no electricity problem,” he said. “There was heat, lights, water. Nothing had changed from two hours before” the storm. “I didn’t feel there was any [safety issues], but that’s my opinion,” Cookson said.

Craig Jackson, who had lived at the Stable Inn for three years, paying month to month, was one of three who moved items Monday morning. He moved his belongings next door to the Cozy Inn, where he’s paying $25 more a week, but “it’s a lot bigger. It’s a lot nicer,” he said of his new living quarters.

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” said Jackson, who had paid for his Stable Inn room through the end of January. “There are some people who paid through March and can’t get their money back.”

“There was a few people who paid ahead,” Cookson said, adding that Cheema promised to pay for his tenants to stay at area hotels for the week they were displaced.

Jackson, who lives on disability payments, said the lack of communication about what was happening with the building caused him and others some stress.

“The information wasn’t good,” he said. At first they said, “You’ll be gone for a day, maybe a week. They told us Friday we had to get out.”

Jared Bragg, who lived at the motel for 2½ years, said that with the short notice, “I had to miss work today to get my stuff out.”

The Evolve Club, which opened the weekend before the storm in a building attached to the front of the motel, also was forced to close, Cookson said.

City officials have ordered that an engineer inspect the building and do a structural analysis of the roof in order to identify any problems that need to be fixed to bring it back to code before the motel can reopen.

Whether the building will be brought back up to code or will be demolished is a question that is now in the hands of the new owner, Dudley said.

“That’s something that has to be decided,” he said.

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