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Troublesome Aurora motels boarded up and cleaned out

Troublesome Aurora motels boarded up and cleaned out
SEATTLE -- A dirty pink flamingo lies sideways, sharing the sidewalk with a cluster of old tube TVs. Nearby, a crushed can of Four Loko shines under a lamppost. A pile of shopping carts sits dormant; each cart long ago removed from the store to which it belongs.

It's a welcome sight to Matthew Singler, who lives just a few feet away from the mountain of trash.

"I love it. I'm so happy. It's been an eyesore forever," he said.

The eyesore Singler refers to is not the heap of garbage that's taken up shop next door to his Fremont home, but the building from where it came.

The old Italia Motel at 4129 Aurora Ave. N. has now been boarded up and cleaned out. Its residents have left, along with the problems Singler and others say came with the place.

"You would see all kinds of delinquents, people selling drugs, prostitution," Singler said. "There's always just problems. Police officers always around. It's just a hassle."

The Italia, along with the Isabella and the Fremont, are under new ownership, after being put up on the auction block. In September, the city labeled the Fremont a nuisance property -- the first ever in Seattle under a new ordinance.

After going up for auction, a group of investors took over the Fremont, Italia and Isabella, according to the Seattle City Attorney's Office. Workers have spent the past few weeks boarding up the properties, cleaning them out, and - in the case of the Fremont - fencing it off.

"Our first priority is to clean it up, board it up, to lock it down," said one of the people involved in the project, who asked not to be named. "To get rid of anything that you don't want there - to get rid of it, to stop it."

"I believe we're in total concert with the neighborhood, with the police department, with the city," he added.

What will go up in place of the motels remains a mystery. Construction plans have not been filed with the city, and the new owners do not have a license to operate a hotel.

"On the day we moved in (to our apartment) there was someone who might've been a prostitute walking by," said Chris Hamilton, who lives next door to the Fremont Inn. "It was always kind of a sketchy place. There would always be, kind of, people hanging around who were maybe, possibly drug addicts or street walkers."

"I'm really happy about (the changes)," Hamilton added. "It's been great. There's still, like, a few sketchy people on Aurora, but it doesn't seem to bleed into the neighborhood as much as it used to, so it's been really nice."

"We all feel that it's about time something happened here," added Devin Dell, who lives in Burien but spends many days in Seattle. "None of us were quite sure what was going on, but we knew something was happening up here. I certainly do feel a bit better."
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