By the 4th of July weekend, The Grove/West Seattle Inn – our peninsula’s only motel – plans to reopen, two months after closing for the first phase of extensive renovations. We’ve been chronicling the renovation plans since the motel’s new owners, longtime West Seattleites, announced them back in December. They’re having a community open house next Monday, and they have reservations for their first guests, starting with the pre-4th of July weekend. But to put it bluntly, some wonder how they will keep out the seedy clientele that kept many legitimate visitors away in recent years. That’s one of the questions we asked Lynn Sweeney, spokesperson for the owners, who granted our request for a tour this week – read on:
When we arrived on Monday morning, a big Serta truck was unloading new mattresses. The renovations go all the way down to the shell of the building – not just new furnishings, like the beds and chairs, but even new railings on the second floor; what was plastic, is now steel – as you can see in the photo above. Some fancier outdoor fixtures are up, too:
Some of the originally floated plans have changed, Sweeney says. They’re not looking to close off one of the parking areas to convert into a courtyard – at least, not for starters. Part of the motel’s second floor, however, will be a secure wing, where groups would be able to book a block of rooms.
If you’ve never been to the motel before – we hadn’t – it’s larger than it looks when you drive by. It will have 46 rooms when the renovation work is done, some small, some large, even two rooms that can be co-rented as a family suite, with bunk beds in one. More than half a dozen will have kitchenettes. They’ll all have mini-fridges:
Some former features are going away – two ground-floor units have hot tubs that are being removed. And some are being added: All rooms will have West Seattle-themed decor, with at least two new framed sepia-tone photos going into each room – the photography was commissioned for The Grove, Sweeney says, with some of them showing well-known West Seattle signs – even WSB sponsor Hotwire Coffee:
Wi-fi? Definitely in the lobby, where continental breakfast will be available to guests, too. The rest of the property – they’re still working on that.
Now, that thorny question. What will keep the motel from being patronized heavily by the same type of clientele that led to its downfall – culminating in the March SWAT standoff that led the new owners to completely close for the renovation work, abandoning the original “stay open” plan?
Sweeney says for one, no more cash-only rentals. You can pay cash, but you have to have a valid credit card. For two, it’s an entirely nonsmoking property – not just in the rooms, but even outside and around the rooms. For three, security monitoring will be set up prominently in the lobby. For four, it’ll be a higher price point – “no more $49 rooms,” Sweeney says. And beyond all that, they just hope that a legitimate lodging-seeking clientele will continue to bring in more of the same.
No guest room was complete enough for us to photograph during our visit, but some will be when you check out The Grove/West Seattle Inn during next Monday’s open house, 4 pm-7 pm (June 27). The motel will be reopening without all the renovations being complete – about half the rooms will be ready to go when guests start arriving toward the end of next week, but some areas will be roped off when you visit for the open house. (Catered, Sweeney says, by Husky Deli and Pagliacci Pizza.)
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Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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