'Hooker Hotel' neighbors frustrated by city inspection process

'Hooker Hotel' neighbors frustrated by city inspection process
Councilman Steve Magre (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Councilman Steve Magre (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Theresa Underwood (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Theresa Underwood (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Tony Yaldo (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Tony Yaldo (Source: WAVE 3 News)
John Funk (Source: WAVE 3 News)
John Funk (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville Metro councilman predicted a Louisville hotel known for prostitution and drugs will pass an inspection next week, frustrating neighbors who asked city officials to close the lodge.

The Economy Inn, located at 3304 Bardstown Road, failed two recent inspections and must pass a third one if its owners hope to remain open. Louisville Metro health department officials said the city had never closed a hotel.

Councilman Steve Magre, the Democrat who represents the area, said Louisville Metro Police made 1,370 runs to the hotel in 2014, an average of more than 3.7 calls a day. Neighbors complained that crime has seeped away from the hotel's property, and many criticized the inn's owners.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Economy Inn ordered to make improvements or be closed]

"I found heroin needles in my backyard, feet away from my child's swing set," Theresa Underwood, who lives behind the hotel, said at a meeting Monday. "At what point does somebody put a stop to what's going on in front of my kids?"

The hotel received failing scores during its three most recent inspections. Health inspectors have scheduled a follow-up for April 20.

About 80 people came to the meeting at Buechel Metropolitan High School. Many were concerned neighbors, but the crowd included the Economy Inn's management team.

The hotel's owners said they were investing up to $700,000 within six months to fix up the inn's 187 rooms. The upgrades include new carpet, toilets, showers and tile floors. The owners said they've hired a security company and pledged to increase room rates.

Tony Yaldo, who operates another hotel in Clarksville but is part of the family-owned business, offered to show the changes to anyone at the meeting.

Earlier in the day, the Economy Inn's owners kicked a reporter off the property without providing such a tour. But Yaldo reversed course after Magre and others blistered the hotel's operation at Monday's meeting.

"Of course, I'll show you. Come back to the hotel tomorrow, ask for me, and I'll show you myself," Yaldo said. "I guess they will see in six months (about the changes). I can't tell them because you can tell, they don't believe me. I can't tell them -- I've got to show them."

Magre's statistics indicated that Metro Police responses were down in 2015 compared with the same time in 2014. Yet arrests at the hotel increased to 63 over the first three months of 2015 compared with 52 over the same period the year before.

Neighbors became frustrated when Magre showed them the Economy Inn's most recent inspections, which show a pattern of failed inspections followed by passing the re-inspection.

Magre's office said 25 people signed up after the meeting to form a committee intended to monitor progress at the hotel if the owners pass their April 20 inspection.

John Funk, who said he worked third shift at the hotel's front desk, didn't believe his former employer's promises. Funk said it was standard protocol at the Economy Inn that workers didn't call police or 911 during an emergency.

"We were told, do not get involved, do not call the police. Tell the residents they have to call police," Funk said after the meeting.

It wasn't immediately clear what would happen to families that live at the Economy Inn if the hotel were to close.

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