UPDATE: Owners of Superior Creek Lodge hope to reopen business - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Owners of Superior Creek Lodge hope to reopen business

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Inspectors at Superior Creek Lodge Wednesday. Inspectors at Superior Creek Lodge Wednesday.

UPDATE: The future of Superior Creek Lodge is up to David Gysin and his mother. The two bought the property in 2006 and have been managing it ever since.
But for the last eight days no one has been allowed inside. The city of East Ridge says it's too dangerous for anyone to stay the night.

"A lot of what's the problem is in an area that's covered up, and until that cover was removed and when that cover was removed then it was undisclosed," said Attorney Jerry Summers.

A team made up of architects and engineers is putting together a list of structural problems found at the Superior Creek Lodge.
The focus is on the walkways, stairwells and balconies.
The city condemned the property forcing hundreds of extended-stay residents to move out on short notice.

"We've tried to be good neighbors and like I say, this ain't the Ritz-Carlton," Summers said.

Attorney Jerry Summers is representing the owners, who bought the lodge for $3 million in 2006.
During the property's last assessment in 2013, it was valued at $3,004,800 dollars.

According to Jerry Summers and Code Supervisor Kenny Custer, the owner of this property is interested in make the necessary repairs and one day getting back to business.

"Yea they'd like to keep it open if they can get it restored and insurance is going to play a big part of it," Summers said.

The final decision depends on how much it will cost to bring the building back up to code.
Code Supervisor Kenny Custer declined our on-camera interview request --- but says the final inspection report should be finished next week.
Custer says the city of East Ridge is not interested in taking over the property and the possibility of demolition has not come up in discussion.

Former tenants, who are waiting to learn if they move back in, say they depended on the lodge.

"This place is the only place that has helped us and taken us in, they don't judge us, they don't judge our story," one tenant said.

The owners hope to make those rooms available once more.

"If they conduct themselves accordingly, pay their bills, we have a responsibility," Summers said, "And that responsibility unfortunately has been broken down."

The city has not given the owners a deadline for them to make any repairs, everyone involved is waiting to see what that final inspection report says and how much it will cost to get the building back open.    
The report is expected to be finished next week.

PREVIOUS STORY: Rachel Blair showed up to East Ridge United Methodist hoping to find permanent housing.

 “It’s been kind of hectic trying to get paperwork filled out, to try to see where we are going to go next,” said Blair.

She and her three children lost their home when inspectors condemned Superior Creek Lodge.

“I would say from what has just come through the doors, we have probably seen 300,” said Hall.

Nearly a dozen agencies have been working around the clock trying to help the 1,500 displaced residents.

Last week hundreds of families packed their bags after code inspectors discovered several problems with the buildings where they lived.

“So we are asking the community that if anyone has any place available to rent to please let us know,” said hall.

Agencies opened a resource center Monday morning, which was able to place a handful of people. But the agencies working to place these families say there are obstacles, and they are hoping landlords and property owners will make concessions to help find a permanent solution for everyone.

“The problem is you may not be able to pass that background check. and maybe you have bad credit, and you came upon hard times, so they are going to need leniency in that,” said Hall

Marcy Hall, a volunteer from East Ridge Care for Kids, says she won't give up until everyone who once called Superior Creek Lodge home will have a new place to stay.

“We’re going to at least have them in shelter somewhere tonight, so they can at least put their head just like the other night,” said Hall.

The shelter is staying open at East Ridge Methodist.

The agencies running it are in need of donations as they work to find homes for those 1500 people.

At last check, 9 families have been placed in permanent housing. 64 families are staying in a hotel.

Organizers say the next challenge will be finding transportation for those living in areas without public transportation.

PREVIOUS STORY: Since Thursday afternoon East Ridge United Methodist Church has opened their doors to those needing a place to lay their head. They say they are doing what God has called them to do.

“We decided we had to do this. How we were going to do this, we had no idea. We were flying by the seat of our pants. We did not expect this to happen,” said Ken Sauer, Pastor, East Ridge United Methodist Church.

1500 people were forced out of their living space after East Ridge city officials condemned all four buildings at Superior Lodge. Churches and community organizations have stepped up. But there is fear that they won't be able to continue to meet the needs of the community.

“Because there is like 1500 people who are out in this city, and on Monday they are going to be out on the streets,” said Sauer.

Churches like East Ridge UMC say they need your help.

“$25 gift cards from Walmart. We can also use toiletries like razors, shampoo, and towels,’ said Sauer.

Pastor Ken Sauer of East Ridge United Methodist is calling on all faith leaders in Chattanooga to open their doors.

“Every church in this city needs to get ready for an influx of homeless people who are going to be coming out of these hotels and who will not be getting permanent housing,’ said Sauer.

East Ridge UMC laid out beds for nine families. They also took food to the displaced families. They say the more help they receive the more they can make an impact.

“If we can all work together as a community to help our neighbors and our brothers and sisters then we can get this problem solved," said Sauer. 

Several agencies will be at East Ridge United Methodist on Monday offering help. If you would like to donate you can do so by calling (423) 892-8451

PREVIOUS STORY:  About 1,500 people are coping with losing their homes in a 48 hours sweep. All four buildings at the Superior Creek Lodge in East Ridge were condemned forcing out hundreds of families and their pets. 
People were made to pack, and get out, in only hours.

The East Ridge United Methodist Church is housing about 30 families displaced from the Superior Creek Lodge.

"It's an epic man-made disaster is what I would call it," said staff member Butch Ortwein.
Church members and volunteers are working around the clock to try and help as many displaced families as they can.    

They're even working with teachers at local schools to make sure no child living in Superior Creek Lodge suffers in class.

"It's been an amazing thing to see how involved the teachers actually are," Ortwein said.

M any of the people without a place to go are being told they have to leave their pets behind.
The East Ridge Animal Shelter is now housing 30 dogs and 10 cats belonging to displaced residents, and the numbers keep rising.
Some animals have been moved to a vacant city building next door because the shelter is out of room.

"East Ridge Animal Shelter has never experienced this many animals at one time, so we're really sort of learning as we go," Andrea Dillard said.

The shelter is in need of volunteers to walk the additional dogs. Anyone interested can go to the shelter Mon - Fri at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and on the weekends at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

Many owners hope to re-claim their pets, but it's too early to tell where many of them will end up.

"Hopefully everybody will get placed and they'll be able to come back and get their pets," Dillard said.

But the question that remains is where will the hundreds of people in need find more permanent housing.

"Just because we can get them out of temporary shelters here, the next step is going to be a big one for them and I'm sure they're going to need assistance in making that step," Ortwein said.

Anyone displaced from the Superior Creek Lodge should go to the East Ridge United Methodist Church on Monday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

There will be several agencies on site to help find more permanent housing for anyone in need.

A grant from the Community Foundation allowed for 41 families to be house at four local motels through Monday. 31 people are being house at East Ridge United Methodist and four families are at Spring Creek Baptist.

PREVIOUS STORY: Help is starting to pour in for more than 300 families who wound up homeless after East Ridge Code Enforcement officials condemned all four buildings at Superior Creek Lodge. 

A Community Foundation grant of more than $15,000 helped pay for 41 family units at four local motels. Officials with The Salvation Army tell Channel 3 they will be able to stay there through Monday and will then come to the Joint Information Center on Monday for more assistance. 

Fifty of those families forced out of their homes have children. Christina Jones is one of those families. 

For her, Superior Creek Lodge has been the only place she can afford for her and her three children. The oldest is two, the youngest is four weeks old. 

“They only let us take what we could yesterday. They didn’t even give us time to get anything. They said we could come back today to get the rest,” she said. 

Jones found out she was being evicted Wednesday night but says with no place to go and no time, she was forced to spend the night inside the McDonald’s where she works. 

“Well if they would have given us more time to try and find somewhere to go instead of a couple of hours, that would have been a whole lot better,” she added. 

Even though Jones was able to find a place to stay tonight, it costs $20 more, $20 that would otherwise go to feed her babies. 

“Money-wise, I was barely able to get food here and now with the $20 extra that we’re having to spend there, it’s going to make it harder,” she said. 

Jones is among 1,500 people now in similar situations and is why East Ridge United Methodist Church stepped up by opening their doors as a shelter for 31 people. Spring Creek Baptist Church also opened their doors to four families as a shelter. 

East Ridge Methodist Church Pastor Ken Sauer says his ministry has offered programs for children at Superior Creek Lodge for nearly five years. 

“It breaks our heart because we know these kids. We know these families. We love them. They’re good people. I know that they’ve got a lot of problems, but we all have a lot of problems. We’re not to judge anybody,” he said. 

Even though the damage to these buildings are dangerous to the lives of those who live here, he believes the large number of those impacted make this situation nothing short of a crisis. 

“When you have all of these people that are completely sent out of their homes, it’s where people live,” he said. 

If you or someone you know needs help, call 2-1-1. 

If you would like to find out how you can help, call East Ridge United Methodist Church at 423-892-8451.

PREVIOUS STORY:  Channel 3 has learned that additional buildings at the Superior Creek Lodge are currently being inspected for the safety of the tenants.

Buildings B and D are being inspected by a structural engineer hired by the owner of the of the extended-stay hotel in East Ridge.

The inspections come after two of the buildings were condemned Wednesday.

East Ridge United Methodist Church is opening a shelter for families and children Thursday night and through the weekend.  Space is limited. They are asking for donations and volunteers. Call 423-892-8451 if you need help or want to help.  East Ridge United Methodist Church operates CARES for the children at Superior Creek Lodge.  CARES volunteers help the children, kindergarten through 5th grade, with homework and tutoring.

PREVIOUS STORY: With bagged belongings on their back and boxes packed with possessions, tenants at Superior Creek Lodge load up everything they own. 

Code inspectors condemned buildings A and C Wednesday night after discovering major structural issues to the outside walkways. 

“We feel like it’s a life safety issues immediately because of that,” East Ridge Fire Chief said.

Some of the issues could be seen from the street. A large concrete slab appears to be missing from one of the third floor walkways. 

“The exterior walkways of both of those buildings show integrity issues,” Williams added.

The announcement came unexpectedly, leaving 128 people and their families scrambling to figure out their next step. 

One pick-up truck could be seen leaving the motel, loaded with a baby’s crib, packed with belongings. 

The investigation began after a code enforcement complaint, while officials wouldn’t go into detail, they did tell Channel 3 it sparked an investigation that includes several city and state agencies. 

Other tenants like Sara Goff, who lives in building B, wonder if she and her family of five will be forced out next. 

“I am over the limit by one person to stay at any of these hotels, even though my youngest is two years old. This place is the only place that’s taken us in. They don’t judge us or our story,” she said. 

The next step lies in the hands of the property owner to bring in a structural engineer and determine what needs to be done to make these building safe again. 

“We will work with the property owner and his engineers and hopefully find a solution for the issues that we have,” Williams said. 

If you or someone you know needs help, the Salvation Army is providing services. You can reach them at 2-1-1.

ORIGINAL STORY: Superior Creek Lodge is once again under the microscope by East Ridge officials.  

A code enforcement complaint was filed Tuesday afternoon after code enforcement went out for a preliminary investigation.  

That in turned prompted a second visit, this time from the code inspector, fire marshal and building inspector.

A meeting was held late Wednesday afternoon to discuss the findings and the investigation and to discuss options on moving forward.  They are waiting to hear back from the State Fire Marshal’s Office before proceeding.

The city will have a plan of action by Thursday morning. 

When asked if Superior Creek Lodge could be shut down, the interim city manager,  Michael Williams,  said the city is investigating and discussing different options.  

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