Residents at Oak Lodge Motor Inn speak out about possible demolition

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WACO, Texas – There is a new plan to tear down the Oak Lodge Motor Inn to make room for condos in downtown Waco.

While city leaders in the Tax Increment Financing meetings are still looking at the idea, people who will be directly affected by the demolition have mixed feelings.

“I don’t think they should sell it like that, and then just letting us move out. We don’t got nowhere to go,” resident Daniel Soto said.

The decision to tear down Oak Lodge Motor Inn is not finalized yet – but it is on the table.

JKBM Holdings, LLC. is requesting $1.3 million from Waco to change the motel into Dottie Oaks Condominiums.

City of Waco Economic Development Manager Kent George says the developer put a lot of thought into why the building should be removed.

“The building, the structure, the number of violations from code and from our building, folks that are at that location,” George said.

George says on top of that, there is fire damage that makes the building unsalvageable.

One of the people living at the motel says she has a broken window. No one will fix it – and she’ll be glad when the place is gone.

“Blessing to get this place shut down and bulldozed off. Because it is nothing but trash. They don’t fix nothing,” resident Mary Thompson said.

Thompson is also a member of Church Under the Bridge, and says her pastor Jimmy Dorrell has been very helpful. He even came by today.

Dorrell said in a statement: “With the previously rumored and publicly unannounced closing of the Oak Lodge Motel, based on a desire ‘to make our city better,’ those who live on the edges are about to lose even more access to affordable housing and will likely move into worse conditions. While I realize it is hard to defend this old, challenging motel complex (and other substandard hotels) due to its history, petty drugs, and crime, at this time in Waco there are almost no other choices for housing for hundreds of these ‘invisible homeless,’ including some families with children. Some of those tenants are members of Church Under the Bridge, who attend weekly.

If the proposal is approved, the new construction on the 11th block between Franklin and Austin will be a multi-use development – with two-story condos, lofts, retail and commercial spaces.

“Typically a couple of months to get through the city process for TIF board recommendations, TIF board meetings and Council meetings,” George said.

George says if the city agrees contraction could start in September and take only a year to complete.

“Just have patience with us. We are going through some growing pains here in Waco,” George said. “There is just a tremendous amount of positive energy and positive development that’s taking place for the city.”

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