When demolition began at the vacant American Inn & Suites and eventually turned the North Arlington hotel into piles of rubble, few were as ecstatic as Yolanda Garza.
As property manager for Silverwood Apartments, a 196-unit complex sitting right behind American Inn & Suites, Garza was unnerved to hear how children from the complex would scale the wood fence that separates the properties and treat the dilapidated building as a kind of playhouse.
“Thing is, kids will be kids – they don’t quite understand the dangers,” said Garza, a property manager at Silverwood. “You just don’t know what would be lurking in an abandoned building.”
Brian Daugherty knows. As Community Services Supervisor for the City of Arlington, Daugherty saw firsthand vagrants using the property as a living shelter – sleeping, eating, and even setting fires.
Kids saw it as a source of entertainment: running, jumping, exploring the empty units. As city officials approached the structure to investigate its multitude of code complaints, young kids would often be seen scampering away.
“You have homeless there all the time and kids there all the time, it wasn’t a matter of if something would happen it was when,” Daugherty said. “From our standpoint, it was certainly a blight on the neighborhood but even more than that it was a safety issue.”
The three-story extended stay hotel, located at 1181 N. Watson Rd., near Avenue J, had been vacant since 2008. It was declared a dangerous structure by the court after being cited with a laundry list of violations, from holes in its roof to hazardous mold and electrical issues. The hotel had lost its certificate of occupancy for crime and code violations.
“It’s hard for any of the surrounding properties if they are dealing with something like that the entire time,” Daugherty said.
The manager of the Roadway Inn and Suites hotel, which was just south of the American Inn & Suites, said they’d lost business due to the dilapidated state of American Inn & Suites,.
“People aren’t going to rent a hotel room if they look across the way and see a boarded up building,” said Rina Ker, the manager. “Just having it gone makes the area look a lot better.”
Garza of Silverwood said they had a difficult time signing renters to apartments that looked out into the area where the hotel stood.
“I’d always say before a showing people just aren’t comfortable living in that particular unit,” Garza said. “When showing a certain unit I would always say, ‘this is going to be hard to rent.”
Right now the area where the hotel once stood is an open space filled with dirt, one the businesses around it hope will be redeveloped.
Few are missing what was once there.
“It took quite awhile,” Daugherty said. “But it was a huge victory to get it taken down.”(By: Ken Perkins, city release)