Red Roof Inn sold
A motel that was the site of a fatal officer-involved shooting in Woodbury last year has been sold.
Woodbury’s Red Roof Inn was sold to Percy Pooniwala, a local resident who owns and runs a number of hotels in the Twin Cities.
The sale comes nearly one year after the shooting incident, where a man kept 11 people hostage resulting in a four-hour standoff. The incident was preceded by a related officer-involved shooting outside the suspect’s room.
The motel continues to attract police with various calls regarding drugs and suspicious activity, according to police reports, though none have been as serious as last year’s shooting.
Pooniwala said police calls at the motel are trending downward and he plans to continue new policies created by the former owners as well as implement new measures.
“This particular hotel is just two miles away from our residence so we can pay personal attention to it,” he said, adding, “I have no doubt that things will only improve.”
People will see facility upgrades beginning next week, Pooniwala said, starting with the parking lot, which has never been re-done.
Pooniwala plans to keep the Red Roof Inn brand, at least for now, while improving the security system, screening long-term guests regularly and making sure no illegal activity is taking place.
“They have a pretty good policy already in place,” he said. “On top of that we are improving the human supervision about everything going on over there.”
Red Roof Inn, formerly owned and operated by a corporation, had worked with city officials following the shooting to respond to residents’ safety concerns.
The motel worked to enhance its check-in procedures and introduced guests to its zero tolerance policy for illegal and inappropriate behavior, city officials say.
Woodbury police also worked with guest services staff at all hotels in the city on a training program to reduce crime.
City officials say they welcome the new ownership group that will comply with city ordinances and operate a legitimate, law-abiding facility, and hopefully give the building a facelift.
“I think a facility makeover might change the dynamics of that area,” Council Member Christopher Burns said, noting that Red Roof Inn, which opened in 1981, has not done much remodeling since then.
Burns said the city doesn’t have control over how private businesses operate, as long as they’re compliant, but it would be nice for the new owners to make the motel “an asset rather than a safety concern.”
In August 2012, police shot and killed a 19-year-old man who fled out of a room where Demetrius Ballinger was holding 11 people hostage. Ballinger later pleaded guilty to attempted murder and rape charges and is currently awaiting sentencing.
Police believed the 19-year-old was a suspect. It was later determined that he was unarmed and had been shot from inside the room as well. A grand jury cleared the Woodbury officers of wrongdoing in the incident.
Pooniwala, who owns hotel brands in the northeast metro including Super 8, Best Western and American Country Inn, said he’s had discussions with former owners and the city about the incident. He said he’s confident that guests and residents will see a difference in terms of safety as well as physical upgrades.
“I’m pretty sure that everybody who comes in will notice the difference from outside and inside,” he said. “We are putting tens of thousands of dollars in the parking lot itself.”
Talks of redeveloping the business district where Red Roof Inn is located have been brought up in previous conversations at City Hall.
Red Roof Inn is located in the older part of Woodbury and is part of neighborhoods city officials would like to see revitalized and given new life, Burns said.
Pooniwala is planning to keep the Red Roof Inn name, but he said changes are possible in the future, though “not in the short term. Not in the coming three years.”
Washington County property records show a price tag of $1.75 million for the sale and a filing date of Aug. 23.
Red Roof Inn is valued at $1.7 million, according to Washington County 2013 property tax records. The motel was valued at $2,059,500 in 2009.