excavator brings down the Hubbs Motel Friday. (West Life photo
by Kevin Kelley)
Ridge motel now history
By Kevin Kelley
Published Nov. 4, 2009
Hubbs Motel, which had been at the center of the infamous decades-long
lawsuit between the city and businessman Charles Shimola, is no
The Center Ridge Road motel, which the
city acquired as part of a settlement reached a year ago, was torn
down Friday by workers from American Demolition. The company was
paid $17,800 by the city for the demolition work, Service Director
Don Glauner said.
But before the workers began the demolition,
Ward 6 Councilman Mark Getsay and Law Department secretary Vera
Goss took the controls of a demolition excavator to punch the first
hole into the building.
“Everyone’s excited about it finally coming
down,” Getsay told West Life.
City officials had complained for years
about maintenance violations at the motel, which they considered
a blight on the area.
Former Ward 6 Council representative Nan
Baker, now a state representative, said she had received frequent
complaints about the property from residents of the nearby Prestwick
development. In addition to maintenance issues, broken down cars
and trucks frequently filled the Hubbs parking lot, Baker said.
Mayor Dennis Clough said that everyone
recognized that it was an eyesore for years.
“Vacant land would be an improvement over
what was there,” Clough said.
Vacant land will in fact be what takes
the place of the motel at 31259 Center Ridge Road, at least for
now, city officials said.
“At this point, we don’t have a definite
plan,” Clough said of the property.
One possibility that has been talked about
for the property would be senior housing, Clough said. The mayor
said he has heard many seniors say there are not enough housing
options in the city for retirees once they decide to downsize out
of a single-family home.
If the senior housing option is pursued,
Clough said it was unclear what form any project would take.
“That would be a new area for us,” the
mayor said, adding that the city would have to research options
in that area.
Other options, Clough said, are using
the property for recreation or as green space.
The lawsuit with Shimola dates back to
the 1980s and revolves around Shimola’s plans to develop his properties.
Under the settlement, the city paid Shimola
$15 million. In addition to the motel, the city obtained a portion
of a shopping center property owned by Shimola. The city provided
Shimola with a sewer easement for an existing sewer serving the
shopping center property that Shimola will retain.
The agreement also calls for Shimola to
expand an existing auto body shop and develop 13 single-family homes
on property south of the auto body shop.
The city had alleged over the years that
Shimola sought to develop his properties without proper approval
from the city. City officials also maintained that Shimola failed
to properly maintain his properties, which they said were in deplorable
For his part, Shimola alleged in his lawsuit
that the city’s actions against him resulted in lost income of up
to $120 million.
In addition to capping off the sewers
and cutting off utilities to the property, city officials had to
evict people living at the property without authorization as late
as March. The city legally took ownership of the property at the
beginning of January.
“These people did not have leases or any
written agreements,” explained city prosecutor Andrea Rocco.
When the individuals dragged their feet
when told to leave, the city was forced to file a notice of eviction
in the Rocky River Municipal Court, Rocco said. This gave the people
more time to find other accommodations, Rocco explained. In addition,
Joyce Able Schroth, director of the city’s department of community
services and a licensed social worker, met with the people to offer
assistance, Rocco said.
In addition, a man, woman and her three
kids and five cats were found at the motel by Westlake Police in
late winter basically living as squatters, Rocco said. After a brief
discussion, they left without incident, Rocco said.