Fort Worth

Las Vegas Trail motel owners have little to say after city’s ‘final chance’ warning

Fed up with a Las Vegas Trail motel’s chronic failure to maintain code compliance, city officials gave the owners a “final chance” to clean up their property or risk further city intervention that could ultimately shut down their business.

After the 90-minute meeting, Knights Inn owners Anil Patidar, 49, and his wife, Hetal Patel, hurriedly left City Hall. Patidar ducked his head and declined to comment as he briskly walked to the parking lot. Patel, following several yards behind, was asked repeatedly if they intend to cooperate with city officials.

She finally answered, “Yes, and we do work with code and we do work with compliance to help them and to fix and address any issues that are there at the property.”

The couple, who were not accompanied by an attorney, met with two city attorneys, four police officers and three representatives from code compliance. Located at the mouth of Las Vegas Trail along the south side of Interstate 30, Knights Inn is a serial code compliance violator and the site of rampant criminal activity, city officials say.

Elmer DePaula, assistant director of code compliance, described the meeting as a “final chance” to bring Knights Inn into compliance. City officials laid out goals they want to see met. If they are not, the city said it would file a nuisance abatement lawsuit that could result in the motel being shut down for a year.

“We’re going to be working closely with both code compliance and with police,” Senior Assistant City Attorney Chris Mosley said. “I expect we’ll probably be meeting in the next few weeks with both to discuss the progress. What we’re generally after is for them to clean up the property, both in terms of the criminal activity and in terms of the code compliance issues.”

Police officials urged Patidar to either hire professional security to monitor the property or require motel employees to walk the grounds more frequently and call police if they see criminal activity.

“The reality is, yes, it was strongly suggested to them that they need to be more responsible stewards of their property,” said Lt. Kirk Driver, who attended the meeting. “Our goal, our hope and our confidence is they will come into standards on both code compliance and crime-control issues.”

Councilman Brian Byrd, elected to the post in May, has made Las Vegas Trail a top priority. A Star-Telegram special report on child abuse in June exposed persistent poverty, excessive violent crime and high rates of addiction and unemployment along the mile-long stretch of road lined by tightly packed, low-income apartment complexes.

Police statistics show 52 “nuisance offenses” at the property during a two-year period from July 14, 2015, to July 14, 2017. Twenty-two of those offenses were some form of assault and 24 were narcotics violations. It isn’t unusual to find a used syringe abandoned in the motel’s breezeways and parking lot.

The motel attracts a mix of customers, many of whom are unable to rent an apartment or have been evicted and need shelter while searching for permanent housing. About half of the motel’s 89 available rooms are rented by people staying for an extended period.

The motel was last inspected on Sept. 19, when six rooms were made available for inspection. While none of the rooms was ordered to be closed, a list of repairs was required for all six, ranging from “must clean and remove stains from wall” to “repair or replace broken door frames at front door” to “replace stained mattress pad.”

Knights Inn currently has eight rooms closed by code compliance, down from 11 in the spring. DePaula said Patidar agreed at Thursday’s meeting to have those eight rooms re-inspected next week with the possibility of reopening them for business if given a passing grade.

Jeff Caplan is a projects and enterprise reporter for the Star-Telegram. Reach him at 817-390-7705, @Jeff_Caplan.

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