Indie Motels Under Microscope as 'Burg Booms

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With headings like "Crack Hotel" on internet trip review sites, St. Petersburg's Mosley Motel at 401 34th Street North has not gained popularity as a luxury accommodation.

As one reviewer on TripAdvisor.com put it, "Fear for your life, this is one of the worst (if not the worst) motels in the St. Pete area. Bed bug & roach infested, daily drug deals in and around the motel (even employees are dealing). Pets are OK which is bad, I saw 2 wild pitbulls running around the property... If you value your life stay away."

Directly next door to the Mosley Motel Gentlemen's Club, The Mosley Hotel has attracted sufficient attention, in fact, to come before the City's Nuisance Abatement Board. The board's mandate is to decide the fate of properties that have been the focus of repeated complaints and visits by city police. In extreme cases, the board has the ultimate power to shut down nuisance establishments.
 
St. Petersburg City Council member for District 8, Jeff Danner, doesn't expect it will come to that. 

"They've been sued in the past, so the board is gun shy about closure," Danner told iLovetheBurg. "But they can close portions of the business until it's been cleaned up."

The Board is also mandated to set fines for certain transgressions and to insist on specific solutions including installing security cameras, for example, or hiring extra personnel for the purpose. Often the Board will insist owners work directly with the police to deal with problems.  

Danner has been monitoring problems with the Mosley for quite some time given his district's growth driven by several big box stores that seek large retail and parking space at reasonable land prices.  A Walmart designed to fit Historic Kenwood's historic architecture (some have called it "the world's largest bungalow") is a notable example. 

This isn't the first time the Mosely's owner, Michael Shimshoni, has come under fire for the problems with the establishments under his management. As far back as April 12, 2009, the St. Petersburg Times ran a piece on warning letters that had been written to Shimshoni.

 
As part of the hearing process, the city will hear testimony from concerned neighbors while police will bring evidence on the number of arrests and calls for service to the area.
 
Melissa Pegues, General Manager of the Mosley Motel says the hotel has been cooperating with police, citing a gate system installed a few years ago and a 16 camera closed circuit TV security system. They also employ a security guard 24 hours a day and an armed guard at night.

"See this?" she says, holding an envelope full of applications. "These are the people I've turned away in the last while... a hundred or so."

Pegues says the motel offers a community service. "Some of our guests have been here for years. No one ever stops in to see how many nice families we have living here. Where in St. Pete is there a place for these people? The working poor. Where do they expect them to go?"  said Pegues motioning to the community outside Mosley's gates. "I think it's just that they don't want the less fortunate where they can see them."

Danner, who heads "St. Pete Shines" development committee, speaks proudly of the renewal his district is experiencing and is seeking more interested developers for the area.

"There's been 27 million dollars of construction between 1st Avenue South to 22nd Avenue north," he continued. "There's a great deal of interest in developing that corridor. It's an impressive area to invest. Everything's new except for the motels."


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