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Demolition begins on 'nuisance' former motels in Sycamore Township

The Drake Motel and Carrousel Inn have years of history
Carrousel Inn damage
Posted at 8:36 PM, Aug 15, 2023

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Two long-vacant motels on Reading Road are being demolished to open land for job-creating businesses, according to The Port.

"The reality is, [they've] been less than useful," said Jen Lintz, The Port's industrial development and brownfield manager. "The properties have really just become an eyesore."

The Carrousel Inn and Drake Motel sit on the same side of Reading Road, one block away from each other.

WCPO reported in December, the two motels were among 2,277 blighted properties that will be demolished using the state's Building Demolition and Revitalization Program. Hamilton County got more than $17 million for demolitions.

Carrousel Inn damage
AN overhead view of fire damage at the former Carrousel Inn on Reading Road.

"These properties just became an area where things are dumped, where people lived, and people, unfortunately, strip out copper," Lintz said. "As a result, the properties really become in poor condition."

The Port acquired The Carrousel Inn in 2021 after a series of legal struggles with a former owner, code violations and the property's deterioration. Tires were found dumped outside buildings, some people were squatting on the site, and it was generally falling apart.

Carrousel Inn Suites fire

Last week, demolition crews were focusing on asbestos abatement in a burnt-out building toward the back of the property. It was the scene of one of several fires at the motel in the last few years. In other parts of the buildings, The Port allowed Cincinnati Fire and Cincinnati State to conduct fire training.

Another crew was tearing down the old vehicle bridge to a separate part of the property that was once heralded as "The City of Carrousel" because of its draw to motorists looking for a special place to stay and to find entertainment.

"They really were a destination spot for people to come with their families," Lintz said.

A City Called Carrousel
A undated postcard shows how expansive the Carrousel Inn was at its prime. Provided.

A couple of dozen acres across the bridge have already been cleared and are owned by Sycamore Township, The Port said. That could ultimately make the property one large parcel again, and enticing to businesses like those in advanced manufacturing.

The former Drake Motel is also now owned by The Port and sitting in disrepair. It closed after a raid in 2013 forced tenants out and ended with its then-owner in handcuffs. The Port said asbestos had already been removed from the building and it was awaiting demolition last week.

Drake Motel demolition
The former Drake Motel on Reading Road is prepped for demolition in August 2023.

"It looks like a mess now but this is just the calm before the storm," Lintz said. "It's good for the community, it's good for the county, it's good for everyone."

The Port expected to have asbestos remediated and buildings down — calling the space 'pad-ready' by early 2024. Its ultimate use, though, will be up to the township and Hamilton County.