Former motel building razed after years of crime calls



By the end of the week, the lot on Gordon Highway that once housed Super Inn will be empty.

The motel, previously known as Adams Super Inn and Augusta Super Inn, across from Southgate shopping center, has been a problem area for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office for more than 10 years.

The property has been vacant since the motel was closed in December 2009. A fire a year later finished it off.

“For many years, it was the single location that generated the most calls for the sheriff’s office,” Capt. Scott Gay said.

In addition to aggravated assaults, prostitution and drug deals, the place was the site of at least two homicides since 2006.

In November 2006, Leonard Anthony Jr., 30, died after being stabbed in a motel room. Police said it stemmed from an argument over who urinated on the motel room door.

Three years later, Jimmy Jackson, 44, died after he was stabbed at the motel.

A December 2007 drug deal at the motel eventually led to the death of Corwin Lee. Authorities said Lee, 38, was beaten after a drug deal went bad. His burned body was discovered several days later in Aiken County.

“We did everything we could to deter crime,” Gay said. “We did sting after sting, but it seemed like whatever we did, it was back to normal in a week or two.”

Pam Costabile, the city’s code enforcement manager, said the property had “a little bit of everything” when it was closed down in 2009. Inspectors found inoperable fire alarms, broken windows, exposed wiring and bugs.

Costabile said code enforcement had been having issues with the property since 2006.

Even after it closed, the property continued to see its share of problems with squatters, eventually leading to a fire that destroyed much of the building in 2010.

“Tearing it down was the best option,” Gay said. “The property will be of some value to somebody.”

For a while, there was concern that other motels were following in the Super Inn’s footsteps.

More than a year ago, Gay said, there were talks of starting a task force to combat problems in motels and abandoned, dilapidated homes in the area.

“It came to budget issues,” he said. “We were trying to create a task force with people we had in place and we just couldn’t sustain that type of enforcement action unless it was funded.”

Instead, code enforcement and the health, fire and sheriff’s departments met with several of the problematic businesses to discuss changes that needed to be made to keep the doors open.

Several of the hotels, many of which are on Gordon Highway, have been temporarily shut down while owners bring the buildings back up to code, Costabile said.

“They’re improving, slowly, but improving,” she said.