By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The City Council unanimously agreed to keep operations at the Victory Inn, 23730 Michigan Ave. ongoing after the hotel owner made improvements agreed upon in a corrective action plan.
During the council’s special meeting Oct. 18 at the Dearborn Administrative Center, a motion to “continue to allow the hotel and hotel manager’s licenses to remain in place under the terms agreed to by the hotel owner from now until license renewal” was read by Council President Susan Dabaja.
An offer was made by Councilman Michael Sareini for the motion and Councilwoman Leslie Herrick supported. Attorney William DeBiasi, representing the city, said that significant improvements were made to the hotel’s physical structure, security measures and cleanliness.
Attorney Amir Makled presented the changes the hotel owner has made to the hotel since the June 18 meeting.
Included in the improvements are a 20 percent room rate increase; added security cameras, one entrance point at the lobby; credit card on file requirement; fire exit doors installation for exit purposes only and have only one exit point for guests; requiring that the registered customer can pay for the room; automatic key cards; heightened awareness and training for suspicious activity; interior and exterior paint; room updates; landscaping changes and weekly staff meetings.
Makled also explained the hotel’s new point of sale operation system which requires a valid Michigan identification to check in. Employees at the hotel are also able to access a data system to track the history of how many times a customer has stayed at the hotel and add negative remarks from prior visits if necessary. The employees can also make the decision not to rent rooms to customers who were terminated, released or had criminal activity at the hotel as part of a new policy.
In total, Makled said that the owner paid a $100,000 investment for improvements.
The increase in the room rate at the hotel from $59 to $79 was implemented in June and also goes up based on events and occupancy. The owner said that due to the price changes and new policies, his current occupancy is at 30 percent compared to the previous 50 percent, but is hopeful that the upgrades made will bring in more customers.
DeBiasi asked that all security camera footage and guest registry information be made accessible to police at their request if needed, to which Makled agreed.
A security guard was hired on June 20 to patrol the hotel property from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on the weekends, and the doors on the west side of the hotel and rear door are now fire exits with cameras to prevent people from entering without permission. Along with a security guard, one monitor is located at the check-in desk, one inside the office and the owner can also view activity on his cellphone.
Suggestions for changes at the hotel were determined with the help of Police Lt. Richard Conrad who said he observed significant improvement to the overall hotel operations and appearance during his multiple visits.
He told the council there were 28 calls for service total to the hotel from July 1 to October 18, but that eight of those were park-and-walks done by police officers and nine were dispatched calls.
“Out of the four arrests made since July 1, one was for misdemeanor traffic warrant when the police officer came in contract with person in the hotel parking lot and another when a person had a warrant for larceny and narcotics,” Conrad said.
“There was an arrest for assault and battery domestic which was a dispatch run, that case was later dismissed because the prosecutor did not sign off on the charges. Also, there was one arrest for possession of crack and heroin when an officer came in contract with a gentleman.”
Conrad said there were two overdoses at the hotel since July 1. The first one involved two people in one room where one guest was in the bathroom and another in the main area.
When the guest in the bathroom heard a loud noise, he found the other guest on the floor and called police and fire department. The first responders used Narcan to bring the person back and transport them to Beaumont Hospital-Dearborn. Several needles were found for heroine use.
The second overdose took place in the parking lot, but Conrad said he wasn’t sure what was in the person’s system when an officer saw him passed out during a check of the area. It was determined that the person was highly intoxicated and had a bag of pills on him.
Makled said his client has been cooperative with police and will continue to do so moving forward.
“I know that Lt. Conrad and our clients have been meeting regularly,” Makled said. “The police and my client’s relationship has strengthened because of this, there’s a lot more communication with law enforcement and my clients, and it’s been a lot of back-and-forth and give-and-take, a lot of access that my clients have allowed to the police department.”
Dabaja and Councilman Robert Abraham agreed that the hotel and owner are on the right path, but that they need to continue to comply with the corrective action plan and the city’s ordinances so another meeting is not held regarding the hotel licenses.
Councilman Brian O’Donnell praised the work that was done at the hotel. He added that based on decreased crime numbers provided by Conrad, the policies and procedures implemented at the hotel seem to be working.
“We have a lot of these hearings and nothing happens,” he said. “I want to take a little bit of a different approach and start by saying, ‘thank you for taking this process seriously and for the work you have done. I drive by your establishment every day and it feels different when you drive by you can see the physical change, it’s cleaned up and with the lights it’s just a different vibe all together from the outside.’”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)