A Seattle-area group of motel owners has bought the former Rodeway Inn in Centralia, and with their purchase they hope to put the horror stories of the Harrison Avenue facility’s former owners behind them.
Garima Hospitality Inc., LLC, of SeaTac, purchased the neglected motel at a trustee’s sale in February and the transaction cleared May 2, according to the Lewis County PATS website. The company, owned by Girish Patel of SeaTac and Anil Patel of Seattle, bought the building for $850,000, according to tax documents.
Monday morning, crews were hard at work on site at 702 Harrison Ave., and passing motorists and pedestrians could easily see old mattresses, lamps, desks and fixtures out in front of the motel as work to gut the building and renovate each room commenced. It’s a major improvement for a building that, after sitting vacant for months, became the target of vandals in addition to deterioration.
“The whole place was just neglected for so long,” said property manager Dave Langley, who was on site Monday. “There was black mold in different rooms, some windows were broken and the place was just in disrepair. So we’re renovating the whole thing and giving it a fresh new look.”
Langley, who said he worked for the company, did not provide contact information for the owners themselves, but said Garima Hospitality owns five motels, with four in Washington and one in Oregon. The Rodeway Inn will become a Travelodge in an effort to “distance themselves from the motel’s previous owners,” Langley said, referring to Harwinder Mattu, who put himself and neighbors through a series of bizarre incidents beginning in August 2010 when he failed to build a fence for safety around the building’s outdoor pool.
Tim Weible and Debbie Slemp, owners of the adjacent Centralia Deli that opened in 2010, were the objects of Mattu’s ire last summer as Mattu exposed himself to Weible — and, indirectly, people eating inside — during a confrontation between the two in August. Weible and Slemp both say the change in ownership is for the better and look forward to working with the new owners to bring new business to what some call the “red carpet” to the Hub City.
“The first week we met the new folks, we all extended the olive branch, and we’re really looking forward to the future,” Weible said. “Everything that happened under that last owner was just a terrible nightmare to everyone he came in contact with.”
The motel’s operating license was suspended by the state Department of Health in September, and shortly after that Mattu lost the building to Whidbey Island Bank after owing more than $2.6 million in principal and interest on the property.
In October, a local roller derby group claimed Mattu scammed them out of $850 as they paid him by check for a block of rooms for a weekend roller derby tournament — only to find the hotel had closed and Mattu would not contact them back. Weible himself says he has a lien against Mattu for $12,000 for work he performed on the motel’s boiler and related equipment.
With Mattu now long gone, Langley says the motel’s new owners have reached out to nearby business owners and reassured them the motel will turn over a new leaf, as well as spending $200,000 on new fixtures, mattresses, carpeting and other work.
“We’re going to try to open June 15 under a new name, new ownership and a new way of doing business,” Langley said.
Weible and Slemp say the motel purchase comes just in time for the opening of the new Centralia Sports Complex and Event Center, and believe the two adjacent businesses will feed off each other during major events that would bring out-of-towners to the Hub City en masse. The soon-to-be Travelodge sits less than a mile from the new complex and is the third-closest hotel/motel to the event center.
The owners of the motel could not be reached for comment, but their neighbors say they’re ecstatic.
“It’s all about reciprocity and keeping our money local,” Weible said. “I think there’s about 85 rooms in that motel, so if you can imagine that place full for sporting events it’s going to help us and everyone around us.”
Christopher Brewer: (360) 807-8235