It started as a motel, but in recent years, it’s become a thorn in the sides of nearby business owners and police.
The Village Squire Motel in Redmond has seen an increase of illegal drug users and trash over the past couple of years. But with a recent sale, its future looks brighter.
At the end of November, long-time friends and business partners Haseeb Shojai and Moe Aria decided to purchase the property on the corner of SW 5th St. and SW Glacier Ave. near downtown.
“We saw the potential,” Shojai said. “And that’s what we’re deciding to do.”
Combined, Shojai and Aria own a plethora of businesses, including a Redmond Shell station, Persian restaurant Saffron Grill, Silver Leaf Cafe in Eagle Crest, and others across Central Oregon, eastern Oregon and the coast.
The Village Squire Motel opened in 1965 and has always operated as such. But the business duo envisions the now run-down rooms in their new investment as affordable apartments.
“As of right now, we can convert that into 26 different units,” Shojai said. “We want it to be energy efficient. We want it to look beautiful. We want it not to be cluttered. We want this place to be a comfortable place for people to live.”
The purchase came after a cry for help from the previous owners, who did not live in the area.
“I think somehow they lost the control of the business, and when when they came back and saw the mess, after like months and months of not being here, they approached Moe,” Shojai said.
That mess was the result of drug users on the property, drawing Redmond Police to the motel 58 times between September 2021 and September 2022.
“It’s been a challenge for a couple of years,” said Chuck Arnold, the Urban Program Manager for the City of Redmond. “There were definitely some activities that were contributing to challenges for other businesses and for operations.”
This alley behind the motel is shared with local businesses, and Central Oregon Daily News spoke to several business owners about their experiences.
No one wanted to appear on camera, but several owners said they would often find needles, feces, and copious amounts of garbage on the ground and in their personal trash receptacles.
At one point, some of them resorted to putting locks on their garbage cans.
Some said they would get together to personally clean up the alley, rather than leave it as it was.
The new purpose for the space means a hopeful farewell to fear for those working nearby.
“It has to be a comfortable, safe place for people to walk to, to drive to, to bike into and to be able to go to work and come back home safely,” Shojai said.
Since November, the two have worked to clean up the space, tearing out old carpets and light fixtures. The scene inside the rooms is still dismal — stains on the walls, cigarette butts in a sink, dirt and grime on the bathroom floor.
But once the cleanup and revamp is complete, Shojai and Aria believe the scenic views and proximity to downtown will make it a draw for those looking for an affordable place to live.
They do not yet know what the rent prices will look like, but the apartment complex is expected to open in August of this year.
Arnold says the city’s Downtown Urban Renewal program will help them bring the space up to code in terms of both safety and aesthetics.
“The biggest win is the previous use that was negatively impacting downtown is no longer occurring, and so that that’s really the big step,” Arnold said. “And it’s great for everyone downtown, great for the neighboring businesses.”
He says it’s all part of a plan to make sure every property available has a business inside, rather than leaving old buildings unused.
17 new businesses have opened in the last year in downtown, and there is currently a 94% occupancy of downtown businesses.
“We’re hoping we get housing that will help support our downtown businesses that are growing, and support having places for people to live downtown that work downtown,” Arnold added. “And so we’re very optimistic about that.”