Walking through the vacant Golden Lion Motor Inn Tuesday afternoon, police Chief Mike Zaro recounted a homicide he worked at the motel in the early 2000s as a Pierce County Sheriff’s Department detective (before the city formed its police department).
As he walked alongside what remained of the partially demolished building, Zaro rattled off numerous crimes committed at the motel over the years. They ranged from serious like the homicide he worked, and sexual assaults, to lesser incidents like drug offenses and fights.
As he climbed into a giant excavator located at the back of the property, Zaro was ready to for some “demolition therapy.”
Seated in the cab of the yellow beast, Zaro maneuvered the arm over the building until it came to a rest at the roofline. Moments later the loud crunch of wood cracking and glass shattering echoed through the property.
Standing to the side, the demolition crew from Northwest Abatement Services, Inc. watched as Zaro helped tear down the single-story motel located at 9201 South Tacoma Way.
Northwest Abatement Services started demolition March 31 after nearly a month of preparation. That included asbestos cleanup and other steps to make
sure the site was safe before the buildings came down.
The motel has been on the city’s radar for more than a decade for various building code violations and calls for police service.
In 2011 Lakewood police were called to the motel at a rate of two times that of nearby motels. By mid-2011 the Golden Lion’s calls for police service were the highest among all motels in the city, according to police statistics.
Here’s a snapshot of police calls for service for some of the worst years in 2011, 2012 and 2013:
- 2011: 103 totalalls (13 “serious” including rape, weapon, shots fired, domestic violence, sex offender, narcotics violations)
- 2012: 156 total calls (14 “serious”including simple assault, resisting arrest, fight, domestic violence and narcotics)
- 2013: 102 total calls ( Seven were “serious”, including fights, simple assault and domestic violence).
The motel has a new owner who worked with the city to see the property razed. He plans to develop the site, though the details of those plans are still in the works.