Owners of the Crown Motel have paid off back taxes and listed the dilapidated property for sale after it was purchased in May at an auction for delinquent property.
The motel, which has become a magnet for crime in recent years, is selling for $250,000, said real estate listing agent Lan Kelley of Century 21 United. It is owned by Ravindra K. Kushwaha, who reportedly also goes by the first name David, and Amanda Kushwaha, who reside in Oxnard, California, according to property records. The owners are seeking a cash-only purchase, Kelley said. Ravindra Kushwaha did not respond to multiple phone calls seeking comment.
The motel is located at 321 W. Fifth Avenue at the corner of Walnut Street.
The Go Forward Pine Bluff non-profit corporation on May 30 bought the motel at a public auction for tax-delinquent property. Go Forward CEO Ryan Watley hailed the move that day as a significant step in reducing blight and crime in downtown Pine Bluff.
But under state law, owners of tax-delinquent property sold at a public auction have 10 days to pay off taxes and redeem a sale, said Nikki Heck, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands. Ravindra and Amanda Kushwaha redeemed the property on June 6 for $26,440.94, Heck said.
“While Go Forward Pine Bluff no longer has any ownership potential, we successfully facilitated the payment of what was owed to the State, County and city of Pine Bluff,” Watley wrote in a statement. “As a result, Go Forward Pine Bluff will receive a full refund. We remain steadfast in working with … the Quality of Life division to initiate due process of code enforcement on this and other properties throughout the city.”
The motel attracted a flurry of unwanted attention in October 2015 after city inspectors documented a host of code violations. The violations included fallen concrete, exposed, rusting rebar, electrical wires hanging out and potential fire hazards. The Commercial reported soon after that police had responded to calls at the motel almost 100 times in the previous six months.
Then-Pine Bluff Police Chief Jeff Hubanks called the motel a “hot spot” for criminal activity.
On Oct. 21, 2015, electrical service was cut off for several hours to the motel. Tenants complained, and within days the motel manager said all but three long-term customers had moved out.
Soon after, the City Council considered an ordinance to establish definitions for hotels and motels in Pine Bluff and establish penalties for violators, which was viewed as targeted at the Crown Motel, but the ordinance was tabled.
In April 2016, a 36-year-old man was arrested at the motel after allegedly starting a fire and throwing furniture out the window.
Both Kelley and a woman who identified herself as the motel manager said David Kushwaha was selling the property because he was in poor health and was unable to take care of it. The manager declined to state her name to the Commercial. She did not say how many people are currently staying in the motel.
Ravindra Kushwaha initially requested the property be listed for $350,000 but dropped it to $250,000 to facilitate a “quick sale,” Kelley said.
Kushwaha purchased the property on May 17, 2007, for $500,000, according to property records. In 2014 Amanda Kushwaha was added as an owner. Five liens have been placed on the property for failure to pay taxes since 2007, three of which have been paid off, Jefferson County Circuit Court records show. The owners owe $1,342.22 in taxes and late fees from 2014 through 2016 for personal property, such as furniture and fixtures in the motel, according to property records.
The motel has 96 rooms, but only 71 are usable, according to property records. A restaurant and clubhouse are not in use.