Graffiti artist fed up with taxpayers footing the bill at old Motel 6. So is the city

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Bob Brawdy/bbrawdy@tricityherald.com

The city of Kennewick is considering demolishing a former Motel 6 as the cost of dealing with illegal trespassing at the empty building mounts.

The city paid Columbia Construction Services $16,250 in January to board up the 100-room motel off Highway 395 near Dairy Queen.

The city took the action after Fortify Holdings, the motel’s Portland-area owner, missed a Dec. 12 deadline to secure the premises.

Evelyn Lusignan, the city’s spokeswoman, told the Herald that boarding up the building helped curtail issues. However, the city continues to deal with additional damage as intruders attempt to break into the property at 2811 W. Sixth Ave.

The Kennewick Police Department and code enforcement officers are frequent visitors. And the city continues to advise the owners of ongoing issues.

Fortify paid $5.85 million for the property in March 2022. It dropped the Motel 6 brand and recast it as seasonal housing for farmworkers.

Former guest rooms were equipped with bunkbeds and residents could be seen gathering at the site last summer. It is not clear why the property is no longer occupied or maintained or fortified against trespassers.

‘Potential legal actions’

To date, the owners have not reimbursed Kennewick for the costs it has incurred. The city will place a lien against it to recover its expenses. The Tri-City Herald was unable to reach a local Fortify executive to comment on its plans.

In the meantime, the city is considering drastic measures.

“We are reviewing other potential legal actions and next steps we can take, to include possible demolition, if the property hazards and nuisances are not corrected,” Lusignan said.

Frustrated tax sprayer

City officials aren’t the only ones frustrated by the drain on public coffers.

A graffiti artist painted a salty message about it in sprawling six-foot letters that appeared since Saturday: “This is your tax dollars!!” the message says.

Lusignan said the city has advised the owner about the graffiti.

If it is not removed, it will be addressed by the local graffiti abatement program, which the city helps fund.

Fortify is a controversial multi-state developer that tuns hotels into apartments.

It entered the Tri-Cities market in 2021, buying six local properties containing 800 rooms at a cost of $38.1 million.

Most were converted into “micro apartments” while the former Motel 6 was transformed into housing for seasonal workers.

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