North Philly residents are outraged over the reopening of a motel with a troubled history. Now they’re calling for the establishment to be shut down for good.
The Liberty Motel, located on Germantown Avenue near Broad and Westmoreland streets, has been frequently visited by police during the last 20 years.
From 2004 to 2014, police have responded to more than 1800 calls at the motel or within a block of it, made 116 arrests for prostitution, 46 arrests for other crimes and responded to 20 deaths, mostly drug-related, according to documents obtained by NBC10.
The crime surrounding the motel doesn’t sit well with residents nearby, especially since its located right next to Bethune Elementary School.
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“I feel like a hostage,” said Arletha Pickens. “You don’t feel safe.”
Carmen Perez told NBC10 her kids can’t even go out and play due to the fact that they live so close to the motel.
“It’s very dangerous and it’s very unsafe,” she said.
Residents told NBC10 police and lawmakers have frequently clashed with the owners of the motel over drugs and crime in and around the property.
“They’ll move once the police come,” said Clayton Pickens, another neighbor. “But they’ll come right back.”
The residents thought their problem was solved after Licenses & Inspections shut Liberty down in December, 2014. However, the motel reopened again Jan. 16 after the owners made repairs and paid the necessary fees.
“We can’t stop so many different things,” said Vernon Jackson who started working as the head of maintenance at Liberty three months ago. “We know they got their privacy and we respect their privacy. When they pay their money, we can’t knock on their door every five minutes.”
NBC10’s Denise Nakano went to the motel’s front desk Wednesday but was told the owner, who is from North Jersey, was not available to talk. He also has not yet returned our phone calls.
Local lawmakers say they are currently working to shut down the motel permanently.
“Prostitution and crime and drug activity are unacceptable,” said Pennsylvania State Rep. Leslie Acosta (D). “Definitely we have to do something about this.”
The city is working on forming a task force to change the property into a Senior Living Center.