Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Hotel contents auctioned off

By Rob Phillips
Enquirer contributor

SYCAMORE TWP. - About 300 people turned out Monday to purchase the contents of the now vacant Royal Crown Hotel and Convention Center on Reading Road.

The hotel was forced to close after failing to correct 15 building, safety, health and fire code violations issued by the township fire department March 7.

"They have surrendered their license and have agreed to close the hotel until further notice," said Township Fire Chief B.J. Jetter. "All the utilities have been turned off and there is nobody in it."

Neal Shah, nephew of the owner, said that his uncle has been talking to developers about the future of the building, but no plans have solidified.

"I wish we could have avoided this," Shah said.

Jetter said the violations included lack of smoke detectors, fire doors, sprinklers, exit lights, an alarm system and safe egress.

Some rooms were said to have no heat.

The hotel employed about 20 people when it closed, Shah said.

A hotel maintenance man, Mark Grey of Cincinnati, attended the auction.

"Of course I'm upset," said Grey, an employee of two years. "They took my job."

Grey wished the situation could have been avoided but trusted the judgment of the fire department.

"We fixed a lot of things," he said. "But a lot of the stuff I didn't even know to look for. (The fire inspectors) know their stuff."

The hotel has 129 rooms, multiple conference rooms and an indoor pool. It was built in 1966, Grey said.

Twenty-five residents - many of them low-income - occupied the hotel when it was shut down.

E-mail phillira@muohio.edu

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