Called 'trap house' by neighbor, motel closes

Posted at 12:27 AM, Dec 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-01 00:27:02-05

COVINGTON, Ky. -- A motel described as a "trap house or a whorehouse" that became notorious for drug activity over the years officially closed Monday, the end of a year-long deal with city leaders.

The Colonial Inn, on Madison Avenue, was allowed to stay open while it was up for sale. Under an agreement from October 2014, the city automatically revoked the motel's business license Monday after owner Jason Mardis failed to find a buyer for the troubled property.

In the terms of the deal, Mardis agreed the property had become a public nuisance.

"There was such a drain on our police and fire departments to service them, our code enforcement, and it's really unfair to our other citizens that we had to spend an inordinate amount of public services on this one property," City Manager Larry Klein said.

The Colonial had become a hot bed for drug activity and prostitution, city officials said. Keith Johnson, a neighbor who described the Colonial as "a trap house or a whorehouse," said he's glad it's now vacant.

"I mean, that thing, I'm pretty sure they should have shut that thing down years ago," he said.

But Johnson, and the city for that matter, want the property put into better use: The Madison Avenue Corridor Redevelopment Plan, written for the city in 2005, named the Colonial as a property the city should immediately buy -- and, at the time, estimated it would cost more than $130,000 to tear down.

Mardis was required to list the property for $350,000 or less, and he had to require any new owner not use the property as a hotel, motel, bed and breakfast or rooming house. Under the terms of the deal, the city has right of first refusal, which so far, it has not exercised.

It will remain for sale, according to city spokeswoman Liz Barlik.

"I think vacant with no illegal activity is better than occupied with illegal activity," Klein said.

WCPO has reached out to Mardis' attorney for comment.