CINCINNATI — A real estate investment company founded by former Cincinnati Bengals placekicker Doug Pelfrey could have its hotel license revoked after repeat violations for bedbugs at the Carrousel Inn & Suites hotel at 8001 Reading Road.
The Carrousel is owned by an affiliate of Blue Tide Partners, which Pelfrey launched in 2011 to make real estate investments in single-family homes and apartment buildings. The Covington-based company has more than two dozen properties in Hamilton County, including the Carrousel and Drake Motel at 8109 Reading.
The Hamilton County Public Health Department has documented 25 violations at the Carrousel since last October.
Inspectors found “stairs with rust and disrepair,” a leaking shower and holes in bed spreads on Oct. 12. Things escalated in February, when inspectors documented “mouse feces under the sink and cabinet” in room 4111, a violation that was repeated in March. “Live bedbug activity” was discovered in room 2209 on March 8. A live bedbug was found in the same room on March 29.
“They are making progress,” said Greg Kesterman, assistant health commissioner. “We’ve taken them through the administrative hearing process. If failures continue, we’ll take the necessary enforcement action.”
The March 29 violation violated an agreement reached with the company on March 22. The document, obtained by WCPO under Ohio’s Open Records Act, required Blue Tide Partners Hamilton LLC to correct all violations from March 8. It also requires the hotel to have no more than five total violations between March and September of this year, hire a licensed exterminator and develop a pest management policy that’s subject to approval by the health department.
“Failure to complete and maintain the above steps by the deadlines indicated will result in a recommendation to the Health Commissioner and the Board of Health that your facility’s Public Accommodation license be revoked,” the agreement states.
WCPO attempted to reach Pelfrey but the email was referred to the company's lawyer. Jason Kuhlman declined to comment but released a statement:
“The Carrousel Motel was purchased in May of 2018 and has been operated as a motel since that time. On March 8 of 2019, an inspection by Hamilton County Public Health revealed issues with a limited number of rooms, including bed bugs in one of the units. That unit was immediately taken out of service. Since that time, we have taken immediate steps to address the issue, including hiring a local exterminator. We are also reviewing the hotel’s on-site management practices and our maintenance protocols with the aim of preventing any more problems of this nature in the future. We have been open and transparent with Hamilton County Public Health about our efforts and effectiveness of them. We believe these problems have been addressed and we are putting them behind us with a renewed focus on preventing any recurrence.”
The Carrousel had the most 2019 violations of any hotel property in Hamilton County or Northern Kentucky, based on the I-Team's review of hotel inspection records posted online. That research was part of a report on hotel inspection practices in Springdale, which aggressively regulates hotels.
In 2016, Blue Tide Partners Hamilton LLC sought a zoning change in Sycamore Township to convert the former Drake Motel into affordable housing for veterans. At the time, the Drake was owned by Sitaram Inc., a West Chester-based operator of hotels and motels.
Sitaram sold the Drake, the Carrousel and a neighboring retail parcel to Blue Tide's Hamilton affiliate on May 22 and May 23, 2018, Hamilton County records show. The Reading Road parcels were among two dozen apartment and hotel properties acquired by Pelfrey and his partners that month.
In July 2018, Blue Tide Partners won a $25.5 million financing commitment from San Francisco-based US Capital Global. A summary of the deal on the lender's web site said it was “to support Blue Tide’s rapidly expanding real estate portfolio. The loan accommodated the complexities of multiple properties, lenders, and sellers, along with a budget for construction with a reliable management team.”