SALT LAKE CITY — Roaches and high levels of meth on motel room walls. Police records showing nearly 1,100 calls to the premises in just one year. That’s some of what KSL Investigators uncovered in September 2018 at the Gateway Inn.
One year later, we went back to see if anything had changed.
Calls for police drop considerably
After our initial investigation of the motel, at 819 W. North Temple in Salt Lake City, Detective Greg Wilking said things did improve.
“We had our substation down there for a little while to increase our presence,” Wilking said. “We met with the owners and gave them a list of things that we would like to see done.”
The list included things like putting up a gate in the parking lot, clearing office windows so employees could see out, and adopting Crime Protection through Environmental Design (CPTED) recommendations.
During 2018, police were called to the Gateway Inn 974 times. From January to October of 2019, police calls dropped to 326, a 66.5% decrease.
While crime data for 2019 shows police calls decreased, the type of crime remains serious and violent, including cases of sexual assault, robbery with a gun, and multiple assaults.
In August 2019, Alicia Baxter was shot and killed on the sidewalk outside the motel.
“Always room for improvement,” said Wilking, noting that while progress was made, things changed last summer.
“There’s been a change in ownership down at that hotel so we need to work with the new owner and make sure that our efforts don’t fall apart,” he said.
New ownership, more changes coming
Nigel Swaby is chair of the River District Chamber of Commerce and has carefully monitored the Gateway Inn situation for the last few years.
Swaby claims the motel started falling back to its old ways when ownership changed.
“We’ve seen the problems that have previously gone away come back in even stronger force,” he said. “I don’t see the same security precautions.”
Gateway Inn’s new owner is David Pope, who also owns the Main Street Motel at 1518 Main St in Salt Lake City.
Pope said he’s working to continue the progress of the previous owner. His biggest priority is to stop the loitering problem outside the motel.
“We’re gonna, like, try to deny them service for allowing them to visit or rent rooms or anything like that,” he said. “Discourage them as much as possible.”
Pope said he met with Salt Lake police in October to discuss additional steps and a collaborative approach to solving the issues around the motel. He said he passed fire and health inspections that were done when he took over the business.
In five years, Pope says Gateway Inn won’t be recognizable. He hopes to develop the lot as its value increases.
“It’s right by the TRAX station, between downtown and the airport,” said Pope. “The airport is going to come online and double the capacity as well. It’s a great location.”
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