GREENWOOD — A Johnson County judge has ruled the owner of the Red Carpet Inn and Fanta Suites must cease all occupancy of the property in order to allow authorities to inspect.
According to the preliminary injunction filed Wednesday, the granted request allows the Greenwood Police, Fire and Building Departments to have access to inspect the property.
The court order does not prevent Lodging & Trade LLC from doing repair work from 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. to remedy the "unsafe and unsanitary conditions."
"The owner has not been compliant with it ... the place is not livable; it's uninhabitable," Greenwood Mayor Mark W. Myers told WRTV. "There shouldn't be people living in there, period, until the entire building is either cleaned up or something else happens with it."
WRTV Investigates did some checking and found the hotel is registered with the state under the name “Lodging & Trade LLC” and the general manager is listed as Ahmed Mubarak.
The injunction says the hotel and Mubarak refused at least partial inspection on Nov. 28 and Dec. 20. Lodging & Trade LLC must notify all people "working, residing, staying, sleeping, or carrying out the ordinary activities of daily life at the Property of the terms and obligations of this preliminary injunction."
Mubarak asked WRTV to leave the property during the September 14 inspection. During that inspection, health inspectors found concerns in some rooms, according to Betsy Swearingen, Public Health Preparedness Coordinator at the Johnson County Health Department.
"Specifically, on September 14, 2022, in all three buildings, there was a significant presence of mold, mildew, insects (such as cockroaches), soiled bedding, deteriorating balcony railings, exposed wiring, inoperable or non-existent smoke detectors, and both doors and windows fastened shut."
"The undisputed evidence presented by the City shows that, despite having at least a full 18 months to remedy conditions first cited in the June 2021 Notice of Abatement, the Defendant not only failed to remedy the unsafe conditions, but allowed them to worsen, such that, at least from and after the time of the October 24, 2022, agreement, the Defendant allowed persons to reside on the Property in unsafe and unsanitary conditions," the injunction read.
The injunction states that "minimal, if any" progress was made to bring the property into compliance and in some cases, "it appeared the violations had worsened."
The injunction says an October agreement signed by Mubarak stated the property would be vacated within 48 hours, but that did not happen and city officials found people living on the property on Nov. 4.
WRTV Investigates has uncovered police calls to the hotel are on the rise.
GREENWOOD POLICE RESPONSE TO RED CARPET INN
- 2019—75 calls, 20 criminal offenses
- 2020- 109 calls, 14 criminal offenses
- 2021- 165 calls, 35 criminal offenses
- 2022 (1/1 to 9/8)- 119 calls, 31 criminal offenses
Myers told WRTV the judge's ruling is a "big relief" for city responders.
"We've had overdoses, deaths, we've had thefts from there ... you name it, we've had the problems there," Myers said. "[We've had] domestic abuse cases, complaints of prostitution in the past and, you know, that has now stopped pretty much ... the number of calls has decreased significantly."
In September, WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney spoke to Greenwood Common Council President Mike Campbell, who said the hotel legally can't be shut down because it's a private business.
WRTV: How long has the Red Carpet Inn been an issue?
Campbell: It seems like forever. It’s gotten worse over the past few years.
Myers told WRTV the hotel issue was brought to his attention after manager Dana Smith's death. He built a task force that includes members of the health department, fire marshal, building inspector and building commissioners. He also visited the Red Carpet Inn and Fanta Suites himself.
"Having been in law enforcement in the past, I've been in places before that were pretty filthy and just disgusting ... this was right up there with the top of them," he said.
Myers says this is the first time the city has had to revoke an occupancy permit.
"We honor and respect our private businesses and we look to our private businesses to help with the economy of the city. But when they become a nuisance, instead of a plus for the community, we're going to take control of the situation," Myers said.
WRTV reached out to Mubarak's attorneys for comment.
"We are reviewing the decision and exploring options, as there are two sides to every dispute, but in the meantime have filed an answer to the amended complaint and a counterclaim," attorney Scott Kreider said in a Friday email to WRTV.
Online court records did not list a future court date for this case as of Friday afternoon.