New life for vacant hotel site

An old Marietta motel is getting new life and a face-lift inside and out.

Mahesh and Neeru Nichani, of 129 S. Fourth St., bought the Econo Lodge May 13, after it been closed for about two years, at a Washington County Sheriff’s sale for $700,000.

The motel at 702 Pike St., next to the Comfort Inn the Nichanis also own, has been vacant with a sign out front announcing it is private property and not to trespass since 2011.

“This has been an eyesore for the two years it’s been shut down,” Mahesh said.

The two-story, 48-unit motel will open by Jan. 1, weather permitting, as a Red Roof Inn.

It is the third hotel project to be opened or started in the past 18 months in Marietta. Developer MPH is building an $8 million Comfort Suites next to its Fairfield Inn and Suites on Cherry Tree Lane, near Pike Street and County House Lane. The company is targeting a December or January opening of its Comfort Suites. Fairfield Inn and Suites opened April 17, 2012.

Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jeri Knowlton said in June most of the region’s hotels are full because of the contractors and other people connected to the oil and gas industry working in the area.

Dave Sweigard, Washington County Building Department building official and inspector, said he inspected the property two years ago before it closed. A few of its rooms were unsellable because of their condition.

“The owner has done several years of renovations with the Comfort Inn,” Sweigard said. “I anticipate he’ll be doing a fair amount to this one, too.”

Mahesh said he is planning $260,000 in renovations and crews already have started making repairs. The property is getting a new water line because the existing one is cracked. It needs a new electrical meter after American Electric Power previously removed it. He also said the roof needed some repair work.

In addition, Sweigard said the owner is checking on some structural issues and the work will include cleaning and painting. All the furniture has been removed and donated to a local church; however, no one on site knew which church was the beneficiary.

Marietta architect Michael H. Scott is working on plans.

Sweigard said the building might have once been a Briargate Inn, built in 1974 after the current Comfort Inn next door. That Comfort Inn originally was a Ramada Inn.

Red Roof has 345 inns in 36 states, employs more than 6,000 people and serves millions of guests each year. The closest is at the Seventh Street exit of Interstate 77 in Parkersburg.

“It will cater mainly to the contractors coming with the oil and gas drilling (operations),” Mahesh said.

Mahesh said he plans to hire 12 employees about a week before the motel is set to open.