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Run-down motel gets a facelift

July 30, 2009 - 5:08 pm
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Before a press conference today, I got a tour of the former North Park Inn (at Oregon Street and University Avenue) from Mark Lukacs, CEO of Diamond Construction. Sitting on a table in one of the rooms was a “Do Not Disturb” sign, wrapped in plastic, with a complimentary packet of Astroglide lube. When Lukacs took over the place in June, he found packets in every room. The North Park Inn was being run more like a brothel than a motel, he said. Dave Surwilo, the North Park community relations officer for the San Diego Police Department, said the motel’s front-office manager would watch a security camera feed and alert guests’ to the arrival of the police—which happened quite often. Todd Gloria, the City Council representative whose district includes North Park, said that last year, there were 108 calls for assistance on the block where the inn is located.


Lukacs’ company is in the process of ripping out the mismatched carpet, old cabinets and crusty bathrooms and rehabbing the place—and the facade—into shelter-plus-care housing operated by Pathfinders of San Diego. There will be a 24-hour on-site manager trained to keep tabs on the 17 occupants, graduates of Pathfinders program for dually-diagnosed, formerly homeless men. (This kind of supportive housing is held up as the model for helping formerly homeless people get their lives back on track.) Rent for a studio apartment (including kitchenette) will be $261. One-bedrooms will cost $457 a month. The San Diego Housing Commission is providing a $2 million loan to help rehab the place, which is expected to re-open in April 2010; federal grant money will help subsidize the rents. Notably, the project met with little, if any, resistance from community groups.

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