Friday, September 30, 2022

Jackson Judge Closes Slum Hotel

 Collapsed roofing, pervasive mold, gas leaks, and just overall disgusting conditions are some of the reasons why a Jackson Municipal Court Judge shut down the Regency Hotel on Greymont Street Thursday. 

Jackson code cited Jiau Ping Zhui, owner* of the Regency, for code violations. The Court said mold was found throughout the hotel.  The roof is in a state of disrepair and in danger of collapsing.  The plumbing needs major repairs as well.  The hotel has tenants even as it deteriorates.  

Judge Reynolds closed the hotel after a hearing earlier this month while finding Zhui was in contempt of court.  He sentenced the defendant to serve thirty days in jail and gave her 72 hours to evict the tenants.  However, no one appeared in court for the Regency because Zhui was never arraigned on the charges.  The Court set aside the order and held a hearing yesterday.  

However, Judge Reynolds threw a little curveball into the case.  He personally inspected the Regency Wednesday with both parties in tow. What he found saw was rather damning.  His order states:

 1.  A large section of the hotel's roof has caved in, exposing portions of the Hotel to the tenants. The defendant stated that the roofs damage resulted from a March 2022 tornado. I also observed widespread mold on the walls and ceilings. Additionally, many sections of the roof leak into the areas underneath different parts of the Hotel where the roof was not damaged by the tornado.

2) The hotel's fire alarms are inoperable.

3) The hotel has a "Club Area," which is regularly rented, where a section of the dance floor is weak and subject to collapse. The "Club Area" is used to host private parties and other gatherings. There are multiple extension cords running in this area. The exit door on the cast side was not lit up.

4) The hotel has two kitchens; the one next to the Club Area has a substantial gas leak. The smell of gas is so prominent in this area that I became light-headed after observing the area for only a few minutes.

5) The bathroom by the kitchen has holes in the wall and unsanitary conditions. The toilet has no water, appears unusable, and mold surrounds the inside of the toilet bowl.

6) Due to a lack of working electrical outlets, extension cords pervade many common areas. It appears most of the hotel's power is sourced from just a few electrical outlets, which, through plug expanders and extension cords, power the hotel.

 

 Chloe Dotson, Interim Director of Planning, said she inspected the hotel twice last summer, warning the defendant about the violations.  However, the "defendant did not seem to care."  Dotson noticed the strong smell of gas.  The hotel also lacked a "valid business privilege license."  The defendant made no repairs.  Deputy Fire Chief Elliott Holmes testified the hotel operated under dangerous conditions: 

Deputy Chief Holmes stated these violations were troubling due to the large gatherings held at the Hotel, including one recent event where he estimated 500 to 1,000 people attended an indoor/outdoor event at the Hotel. Deputy Chief Holmes testified the people at these large gatherings had access to the kitchen, where if a partygoer were to light a cigarette, it could cause an explosion because of the gas leak in that area, which he described as an "extreme danger," particularly with hundreds of partygoers having access to that area during events. Deputy Chief Holmes also testified that the dance floor in the "Club Area" was on the brink of collapse, and had been that way for over a year. He testified that he raised these issues with the Defendant, but she did not repair or otherwise correct the code violations.
Many doors were padlocked as well.  Natchez nightclub fire, anyone? 

Zhui blamed all problems on the March 2022 tornado, claiming the insurance company only paid $74,000 for damages to the premises.  The policy provides up to $11.5 million in coverage.  Her public adjuster said $5-8 million dollars to make the necessary repairs.  

Judge Reynolds closed the hotel and ordered Zhui to evict all tenants by October 3.  He sentenced her to serve 120 days in jail if Zhui did not demolish the hotel within 180 days.  He also ordered the fire department to turn off the gas.  The Court set a $1 million appearance bond for the defendant. 

Attorney John Nisbett represented Zhui. 

* Hinds County property records state Ketan Patel is the managing member of the company although Zhui claimed in court she was the owner. 


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

If JFD finds a gas leak and/or other life threatening fire safety violations, hotel should be emptied immediately. The City could be sued for not doing so. Judge Reynolds has grande cojones to investigate this death trap personally. Thanks Judge!

Anonymous said...

So the city knew about this for a year (at-least) and allowed it to continue business? That’s crazy

Anonymous said...

No, 5:57 -- it's standard operating procedure for Jackson...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Stockett is spinning in his grave.

Anonymous said...

Chowke's dope boys will have to find a new location to sell their wares.

Anonymous said...

& Convention Center. It’s the Regency Hotel &Convention Center. Show some respect.

Anonymous said...

$5-8 million dollars she was paid for repairs. Isn’t that fraud!

Anonymous said...

I am not as smart as many regulars here, but what about Stokes asking the DEQ to handle that tire dump in Jackson?
Shouldnt the City be liable for that first?


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