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Damaged motel reopens, but big upgrade planned

Posted: Tuesday, Jun 18th, 2013

After a fire gutted some rooms of the National 9 Motel in September, owner Suresh Patel plans to level the motel and build a new hotel. (Photo by Erik Chalhoub/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — The fire-damaged National 9 Motel near Main Street and Freedom Boulevard has reopened amid plans for its demolition to make way for a more upscale inn. 

Motel owner Suresh Patel said Monday that he has secured financing, generated interest from the La Quinta and Marriott hotel chains and prepared preliminary designs for an upscale, three-story hotel at the property.

Patel said he hopes to gain city approval this summer and start work on the estimated 50-room, $4.5 million project later this year. A city planning official said project approval could come as soon as three months.

National 9 was nearly destroyed Sept. 24, when a fire broke out about dawn in one of the motel’s 18 rooms. The blaze started in a corner room of the single-story pink motel on Western Drive at Main Street, near Norma’s restaurant.

It gutted and blackened four rooms and displaced more than a dozen guests, including two disabled people and at least two full-time residents.

Watsonville Fire Division Chief Chris Johnson said this week that investigators have concluded the fire started on a mattress in one of the rooms. But he said what caused the mattress to begin smoldering and ultimately spark the blaze was “undetermined.”

For the complete article see the 06-18-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 06-18-2013 paper.

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