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.
“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.
The two-story motel had neither electricity nor water service, Pete Patel said. The rooms did not have furniture inside. Doors and windows were covered with wood in an attempt to block entry, he said.
Still, homeless people would find their way in, especially at night, he said.
During a scheduled asbestos inspection last week, three homeless people were found inside the motel, Pete Patel said.
Gaston Emergency Medical Services reported that no one was found injured or deceased in the motel after the fire, and no firefighters were injured fighting the blaze in temperatures hovering around the 90-degree mark.
The fire did not seem to bother the Patels, who said they are just waiting for permits to come in to tear the building down.
“We’re ready to demolish that building,” Pete Patel said. “As soon as it was bought we wanted to demolish that building as fast as we can.”
They hope to replace the closed motel with either a new motel or an apartment building. They also hope to spruce up the Quality Inn.
“We like this location,” Keyur Patel said.
The Patels hope they can help with a resurgence along the portion of Cox Road north of I-85.
Both Keyur Patel and Pete Patel say they live in Gastonia.
You can reach Kevin Ellis at 704-201-7016 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.