Closed Gastonia hotel that had become haven for homeless people burns

A long-closed motel scheduled for demolition behind the IHOP on Cox Road burned Thursday.

At least six Gastonia fire trucks, in addition to trucks from neighboring departments, and dozens of firefighters and rescue personnel responded to the fire call that came in just after 5:30 pm

A sign on the partially burned-out motel labeled it as a former Value Lodge, although no paying guests have stayed there in more than a dozen years, said Pete Patel, who owns the building with his business partner, Keyur Patel.

The Patels own the Quality Inn next door, where the 46 rooms rent for between $64 and $80 per night. The Patels bought both buildings in December 2020 for $2.35 million and have been planning to demolish the closed motel ever since, they said.

While no one has paid to stay at the former Value Lodge in approximately 15 years, it had become a haven for people in Gastonia without homes.

Gastonia firefighters put out a blaze at a closed hotel next door to the Quality Inn on Cox Road, near the I-85 interchange.

“We had to call the police sometimes three or four times a week because we had homeless people there,” Pete Patel said. “Dealing with homeless people there, it was a nightmare.”

Firefighters at the scene did not disclose a possible cause of the fire, but did ask to see footage from video cameras from the Quality Inn. Workers for the Patels reported seeing a man run from the closed motel around the time of the fire.

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