HALEYVILLE - A complaint filed by the City of Haleyville against Yogi, LLC, to permanently close the Imperial Inn has been dismissed, now that the motel has been closed and sold to new owners, who are planning a $1.8 million renovation and development of the property into efficiency apartments.
The city had filed the complaint in February, 2022, citing the property as being a nuisance, due to drug activity and several drug-related arrests made there through the years, city officials have said.
In order for the sale of the property to proceed, the Haleyville City Council at their regular meeting Monday, March 6, approved a zoning variance for the property from Highway Commercial to R-3 Residential or Multi-Family.
Plans are for the new owner, H&H Property Management of Muscle Shoals, to work with Complete Care and Repair of Muscle Shoals, a contractor service, to completely overhaul the property to create 65 studio apartment units, with rent, utilities and WiFi all included in the monthly rate, the amount of which has not been determined as of yet.
The official sale of the property was finalized on Thursday, March 9, the new owners confirmed. The current room size will not change. Each unit will be gutted with new construction meeting fire code regulations of two persons per unit, the new owners said.
City Attorney Jeff Mobley explained at the council meeting that the company which had sought to purchase the Imperial Inn came to the zoning board of adjustments and asked for a variance.
“We already have apartment buildings that are on Highway Commercial property on the way to Walmart,” said Mobley. “So the request was they be allowed to convert the Imperial Inn into multi-family apartments that would be refurbished and set up as efficiency apartments.”
Mobley explained those units located on both highways 13 and 195, were installed before the zoning ordinance went into effect and, therefore, were grandfathered in under the ordinance once it was passed.
“After hearing and understanding this proposal, the zoning board of adjustments voted to authorize the variance and recommend to you that you approve a variance to allow the new owner to establish multi-family units in the existing building, which is the Imperial Inn,” Mobley further explained to Mayor Ken Sunseri and council members.
The council voted unanimously for both immediate consideration and then to approve the variance, with Dr. Ray Boshell, Blue Russell and Drew Thrasher voting in favor in person, and Brian Berry and Julie “Boo” Brooks, both of whom were unable to attend the meeting, voting by speaker phone.
Resident Valeria Taylor asked when the transaction would take place.
“They had to have approval on the zoning, before they could do anything with it,” Sunseri responded. “Once they get our approval, I think within the next 10 days, the motel will be gone and it will take probably until August before they have it renovated.”
Sunseri was referring to the motel as being closed in the use of the term gone.
“My next question is, when we have visitors here in town, I know (the motel) was not one of the best places to stay, but they stayed there,” Taylor said. “Where will they go?”
“We will no longer have a hotel,” Sunseri responded. “They will have to go to a bed and breakfast.”
“Do we have a bed and breakfast here?” Taylor asked.
“Yes,” Mobley responded.
“Where is it?” Taylor then asked.
Sunseri explained that the former residence of Larry and Shirley Gilliland, near the old ARC building has been turned into a bed and breakfast along with another building on that property.
“How many will that hold?” Taylor asked.
Sunseri responded the he did not have exact numbers, but noted approximately three or four could stay in the former Gilliland house, and around 12 in the separate building.
Brooks said another bed and breakfast property was located on 11th Avenue.
Sunseri noted the new development of the property would be of benefit to the city.
When asked about those who were residing at the motel under the now previous owners, Sunseri responded that was between those residents and the former owners.
City officials explained the former owners had given occupants of the motel so many days to vacate the property before it was closed.
“It is our understanding that the new owner has successfully turned other older buildings into residential apartments,” Mobley said. “He seems to have a reasonable track record, and we felt like it was a good option to see the property remain in service.”
contractor explain upcoming
Blake Evetts, owner of H&H explained that H&H Property Management had previously done a similar development in Russellville, converting a vacant nursing home into studio apartments.
“It’s really the same game plan as this,” said Evetts, “converting them into studio efficiency apartments. What we will be offering at completion is convenience.”
Studio, or efficiency apartments, are compact apartments, complete with living space, a kitchenette (refrigerator, stove and sink) and a full bath, Evetts explained.
“As far as the tax classification, this is going to be an apartment complex,” Evetts noted.
Evetts noted it was better financially to restore available property than building a new structure from the foundation .
“Taking these things that are existing and converting them, retrofitting them, is something I enjoy, and it’s a very strong investment,” Evetts continued.
The Russellville project has 37 units at 100 percent occupancy, Evetts stated.
The new studio apartments are not based on income and will subject potential occupants to a background check, credit score check before they are approved to sign a one-year lease, Evetts indicated.
Developers assure that no one will be allowed to live in the new apartments unless all of the requirements have been met and a 12-month lease signed.
The new development will be known as Studio 11 Apartment Complex, according to the new owner.
“This will be a very intensive facelift we are going to put on this property,” Evetts noted.
The contractor was asked about the extent of renovations seeing that the property had been an alleged site of drug use for years.
“It’s going under full renovation,” stressed Shawn McWilliams, owner of Complete Care and Repair. “Every unit, all 65, will be completely gutted out, and then put back new. We’re going to aggressively attack the outside of the building.”
The exterior of the apartments will be painted the Haleyville School colors - red and white, McWilliams explained.
“We’re not using any of the existing materials in there,” he added. “It’s solid concrete all the way through.”
The only unit that will not be the same size as the motel rooms will be the downstairs office space, where the previous owners also lived, McWilliams said.
A decision has not been made whether that area will be office space, additional storage or an occupied unit, according to McWilliams.
Plans are to possibly have an apartment manager live on site, added Evetts.
The new owner also plans to work with the fire marshal, in bringing the structure up to code with proper sprinkler systems, he noted.
Concerning accessibility for the physically disabled, the building already has rooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act at the lower level, according to Evetts. The present stairways will be kept. No elevators will be on the property, since they will not be required per fire code, he said.
Plans are to start cleaning out the motel building soon and an architect will draw out plans for the building, which will be turned over to the fire marshal, Evetts explained.
“That will happen throughout March,” he said. “I kind of anticipate Shawn getting geared up throughout March, getting prepared while the architect is there doing his thing.”
Around April, renovations should be ongoing, with plans for completion, pending any delays, within four to five months, according to Evetts.
Plans will be underway soon to do an aggressive pre-leasing campaign, so that the apartments will be 100 percent occupied by the time the property is ready, Evetts said.
Security cameras will be installed at the renovated property, with 24-hour access to property management or maintenance, according to the new owner and the contractor.
New lighting and parking improvements will also be made on the property, they added.
The current building has a laundry area which can be utilized in the new development, since the apartments will not feature washer or dryer hookups, the contractor stated.
“I think the final outcome will make everyone very happy,” McWilliams pointed out.
“I’ve had an unbelievably positive experience from everyone here at Haleyville,” Evetts added.
“I think Haleyville is right for an investment this size,” he added.
“I’ve heard it’s hard (for employers) to get employees because it’s hard for them to find places to live,” Evetts continued, “because housing is such a hard thing to find.
“I hope this alleviates that,” he said.
Evetts has been doing property management projects since 2016, with McWilliams doing construction projects since that time as well, they said.
Plans are uncertain for the neighboring property of the now-former motel, where the former Galley Restaurant has been empty since it burned in January, 2018. That building is owned by someone else, officials said.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.