Jul 28, 2014
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El Camino Motel Demolition Begins

The motel that opened in the 1960s will be completely torn down within the next 10 days, the property owner said.

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Updated at 6:25 p.m. to include additional information from real estate agent Brian Stewart and 7:10 p.m. to include thoughts from Alex Adams who lives next to the hotel.

As construction work continues to finish a new hotel on Seacoast Drive, workers on the city's northern tip are tearing down a decades old motel.

Demolition of the El Camino Motel and the Little Vienna Lounge started Monday, said property owner Dunham and Associates.

Caneles Demolition, the company that is tearing down the motel, is expected to finish reducing the property to a vacant lot by Oct. 12.

The motel's second story is already gone.

"The demo will be completed and the property will be sold," said Holly Lunde with Dunham and Associates.

The motel was used in the short lived HBO series John from Cincinnati.

Calling the property a public nuissance, in June the City of Imperial Beach ordered the motel be demolished.

According to the city, San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputies responded to more than 50 calls for service a year at the location in the past five years.

An inspection by the city in July found one of the building's staircases had collapsed and other portions of the building could collapse as well. Toilets were used as fire pits, "transient camps" squatted in old rooms and people rode skateboards and bikes in the empty pool until 2009 when a steel plate was installed.

According to U-T San Diego, the hotel was built in 1960 and ceased operations in 2007.

Real estate agent Brian Stewart acted as the property's realtor until recently. He said he received a few emails from local residents protesting the demolition.

"They were sort of steadfast that they wanted it to stay," he said Tuesday afternoon. "I think they're still in the John from Cincinnati days."

At an Aug. 1 meeting, Stewart told the Imperial Beach City Council he had received interest from people who wanted to buy the motel for its nostalgic value, but a lack of flexibility from the city was a problem.

Imperial Beach City Council candidate Valeria Acevez also said she was disappointed to see the hotel go.

Alex Adams, 23, has lived on 7th Street behind the motel for 12 years and is happy to see the El Camino being torn down. Not because of the crime or attention from the sheriff's department, he said. That didn't affect his life. It's time for something new.

"It was just taking up a big old thing of space," he said. "Hopefully they can make some apartments back there or something."

Adams continued to say he would like to see shops, a restaurant or even another motel or hotel built at 550 State Route 75.

"Just something decent where people can come out and enjoy themselves," he said.

Did you ever stay in the El Camino? What are your memories of the motel? Is it a good or bad thing that the motel is being demolished? Share in comments.

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