Residents of the Tiger Hotel’s independent living community found out this week that they will soon have to find another home.
The residents, many of them senior citizens, received a letter from Executive Director Kate A. Alnutt explaining that their leases were being terminated because providing permanent residences was not “economically viable” for the business. The business offered three meals a day and transportation, in addition to suites, to its full-time residents.
The Tiger Hotel, renovated in March last year, is a multiuse business showcasing banquets, commercial and retail space and the independent community. After serious and expensive works on the independent living portion, the hotel decided to terminate the leases with its residents, said the hotel owner, John Ott.
Of the 60 suites available for independent living, only 23 were occupied, Ott said Thursday.
Ott bought the building, which was originally built as a hotel in 1928, three years ago with investors Dave Baugher and Al Germond.
Residents have until March 9 to move out, according to the letter. Those who need more time can stay until March 31, but food and chauffeur services will not be available.
Ott said the meal service was a huge expense because the suites aren’t equipped with kitchens.
Another reason for the change was the increase in competition for residents. “There are more companies that have opened right after we started (the independent living community) and added the competition,” Ott said.
By providing three meals a day instead of the one to two that other companies offer, the Tiger building had difficulty balancing its budget, he said.
“We were losing money every month at the beginning,” he said, pointing out that this has been the case for three years.
“Perhaps they did spend a lot of money,” Judie Ross-Bales, a resident since 2005, said, “but we also paid for it.”
Ross-Bales said getting the Jan. 9 letter “was a big shock for most of us, and most of us were very unhappy.”
With her son’s help, she has found a new home at Boone Landing, a retirement community on Keene Street. Although the location is pretty, she said, she will have to drive farther to shop at her favorite stores downtown. But the stores aren’t the only thing she’ll miss.
“There are going to be friends we’ll lose,” Ross-Bales said.
But she is prepared to move by March 9 instead of accepting the extension. “There is no point staying here,” she said. “We will have to go ahead and settle down.”
Ott said the owners have helped residents find new homes. Instead of a 30-day written notice as required in the lease agreement, residents were given 60 days.
The decision was explained Wednesday at a meeting with the residents, he said. And Thursday, representatives from other independent living communities, such as Candlelight Terrace and Tiger Place, were brought in to tell residents about their communities.
“Of course no one is happy about this,” Ott said, “but I think most of our residents understand.”
The future of the 23 suites that will be vacated remains uncertain, he said, but the hotel management is talking with consultants to decide the next step.