Downtowner residents worried about move |

Downtowner residents worried about move

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Steve Helton carries some of his mother's clothes from their room at the Downtowner Motor Inn on Friday as they prepare to move to the Frontier Motel after the owner of the Downtowner has his business license revoked on Thursday.

Dawn Gibson said she feels bad her landlord lost his business license, but she doesn’t think he did a good job running the motel.

“It’s a dump. It’s a dump,” she said. “It’s a complete dump.”

Ralph Ahmad’s business license for the Downtowner Motor Inn was revoked Thursday for failing to pay room taxes. It’s the same motel that re-opened in 2007 after being shut down by the city in 2005 under Ahmad’s ownership for problems including sewage in living rooms.

Ahmad also lost his license in August this year, but got it back when he paid back taxes.

Residents of the 34-room motel at the corner of North Carson and Washington streets will now probably be moved to other motels or housing over the next month by the city. They will not be evicted.

David Shearer, who also has a business license for the motel, said he plans to take over the Downtowner next week and bring it up to code. The property owner, James Dimartino, will not foreclose and sell the motel Dec. 9 as scheduled if this happens, Shearer said.

Even if Shearer does take over, part of bringing the motel up to code will be enforcing a maximum one-month stay, said Carson City Developmental Services Director Walt Sullivan. The city is trying to find available rooms with similar rent to the Downtowner, he said.

This would force many like Gibson to leave the motel whether Shearer takes over or not. She moved into her room seven months ago and lives there with two relatives and two cats.

Ahmad has forgiven rent payments while she’s looking for a job, so she’s not sure what she will do when she has to move. Rent is advertised as $135 a week.

“If we had the money to relocate, we would have done it already,” she said.

But Sherry Hawkins, who has lived at the motel since May, said Ahmad ignored noise, drug and sewage problems. He even collected rent on Friday after having lost his business license, she said.

But Hawkins plans to buy a house before she has to be relocated. She has a regular job, doesn’t use drugs and shouldn’t be at a place like the Downtowner, she said.

“This is like a freak-weirdo Disneyland for freaks,” she said.

The sheriff’s department has been called out 71 times to the Downtowner over the last year, according to Detective Bob Motamenpour.

Not all calls were for criminal complaints, but the Downtowner had the more problems than any motel other in the city.

“They need to bulldoze this place down,” Hawkins said.

But the city hasn’t been fair to Ahmad, said resident Chris Carpenter, and he shouldn’t have to pay for the city’s desire to take over the property.

Carpenter said Ahmad paid the room taxes he owed the afternoon before his license revoked. The city says the check was for an account with no money.

“If they want you out, you’re pretty much done,” Carpenter said.

He’s been at the Downtowner about eight months, he said, and can’t understand how he can be forced to move.

“It’s going to affect me hard,” he said, “because where am I supposed go?”

But Jesse James, a 22-year-old resident and maintenance worker at the Downtowner, said people started to leave the motel after hearing what happened to Ahmad.

“I guess they’re taking it well, just leaving,” he said. “I guess they figured it would happen.”

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.