Petersburg motel owners join forces to clean up properties, cut out crime

Hospitality District overhaul in Petersburg

PETERSBURG, Va. (WWBT) - A major overhaul is underway when it comes to motels that seem to harbor crime in Petersburg.

Business owners are taking matters into their own hands, and the goal is to change the perception of motels in the city and step up safety.

Prostitution, drugs and the things you don’t want in your community find Petersburg motel owners realizing if they want to stay in business, they’ve got to change the way they do it.

"When it’s dark and gloomy, then dark and gloomy things tend to happen,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Marlow Jones.

Petersburg police say the area known as, “The Hospitality District” is a hotbed for crime.

"There’s been multiple overdoses at each one of these hotels,” Jones said.

That's why the city is working to do something about it. Jones has decided to partner with the motel owners.

"We the city want to bring about safety and change,” he said.

They've formed an association to work together to clean up their properties.

"We have new lights, new rooms, new air conditioning, new tv, new bed,” Gurdeep Jaswal said about his property, Loyalty Inn.

"Every hotel is putting up LED lights that are shining on their property” Jones explained.

For a different owner, it means paying close attention to who he's renting rooms to.

“They’re not just begging on the corner and coming at nighttime and want to get a room. No….We won’t let them come into our property because (of) their daily routine…they don’t sleep all day and all night, so you know who are those people,” Sunny Anand said, owner of Loyalty Inn.

He’s also raising his prices from more than $30 a night.

"We don't drop anything below 45. It has to be 50 and up,” he added.

He has a goal in mind.

"They'll start clearing the streets and let other good people come into the hotel,” Anand added.

It's a new approach for the city. Motels mobilizing to make a change.

"Every week, they’re helping each other cut each other’s grass (and) helping each other paint so it’s no excuse for one to have and one not to have,” Jones said.

"We want to change,” Anand said.

The hotels have joined forces to bring nighttime security at each location. The business owners are planning to meet once a month.

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