Buildings at Quail Lodge beginning to be torn down
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A hotel by the Savannah Airport will be forced to close its doors later this year, after the Savannah Airport Commission has invoked eminent domain against the property.
The Commission took control of one of the buildings at the Quail Run Lodge back in January and now, that building has been torn down.
Owner Daniel Connell says construction crews have been gutting the insides of the building for the last several months. But just last week, the whole thing came down.
What used to house 32 people permanently has now been reduced to rubble, and some people that live in the other buildings say they’re scrambling to find new housing before their buildings come down, too.
“My manager spent the last two weeks literally crying herself to sleep because they’re tearing down a building and a business that she was part of developing for the last 29 years,” Connell said.
Connell’s manager isn’t the only one upset that building 400 has officially been torn down. It’s an urgent reminder to everyone that lives at the Lodge, they only have until July 1 to be out of their buildings.
But for many of the long-term residents at the Lodge, finding new housing is a challenge.
“I’ve been retired probably for the last three years, and now I’m having to go back to work because now I’m having to pay a higher price to live now. I gotta do what I gotta do,” said Quail Run Lodge resident John Saxon.
Saxon isn’t the only one returning to work.
David Dennis, who’s 68 years old, says he’s lived at Quail Run Lodge for the last 18 years. But to afford to find a new home. he’s going back to work full time.
But even with the possibility of a new job, he says just finding somewhere to live is tough.
“There’s just not much available in the 25-mile radius. There’s just really nothing available and the prices are outrageous,” Dennis said.
According to Connell, the monthly price to stay at Quail Run Lodge is around $900 to $1,000.
According to the ApartmentList.com, which analyzes rental data nationwide, the average rent in Savannah is around $1,900.
Connell says he knows that his 65 tenants, many of which are on fixed income, will struggle to find other housing.
He says ideally, he would like to be given enough money to buy another hotel and move his tenants there, but he’s not going to get that without legal action.
“I’m not somebody standing in the middle of the runway, making them all go around me, but I just think there should be a better way to handle the situation than to let it go to a jury trial and go through all this drama. It’s not something I’m looking forward to, but what choice do you have,” Connell said.
WTOC reached out to the Savannah Airport Commission for comment. They declined, saying they can’t talk about ongoing court cases.
It is not scheduled to go to trial yet. Connell says he’s hoping to work things out with the Airport Commission before it comes to that.
Connell says that he’s in talks with the Savannah Airport Commission about how much money they’ll give him to make up for losing his buildings.
Court documents show the Savannah Airport Commission actually owns the property that Quail Run Lodge sits on, but Connell owns the lodge’s buildings.
Connell says that he does have another 7 years left on his lease, but court documents show that the Airport Commission has invoked eminent domain against the property to take it over.
Now, Connell says that with the loss of his home and business, all he wants is enough money to buy another hotel, which he admits is a lot, considering the inflated price of many properties right now.
“We don’t think that the level that they’re offering is anywhere near what we’re gonna need, but I’m hopeful that at some point in time, the Airport will realize that and adjust the offer. We’re not there yet, but if we can resolve it, we won’t have to go to trial. If we don’t resolve it, it’ll get resolved in a jury trial,” Connell said.
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