Truckee motel once used as motor court in the ‘40s to be demolished | SierraSun.com

Truckee motel once used as motor court in the ‘40s to be demolished

Josh Staab
jstaab@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — A historic — yet deteriorating and potentially hazardous — downtown motel structure will soon be demolished.

Truckee Town Council on Tuesday unanimously OK'd the razing. Those present during the meeting — including staff and residents — offered support, as well as suggesting the location could be used for future Jibboom Street development.

The motel at 10002 Jibboom St. was originally constructed in the mid-1940s, according to the town, and was designed as a "motor court" meant to provide nightly accommodations to motoring tourists.

Its use remained unchanged through the '70s. By the '80s, the building had transitioned to apartment rentals, although by the mid-80s it was unoccupied, leading to development proposals that never came to fruition, according to the town.

Now the building sits in disrepair and poses a serious threat to its surroundings, said John McLaughlin, director of community development for the town.

"It is a dangerous building in my opinion, as stated to me by the (Truckee Fire Protection District)," McLaughlin said Tuesday, adding anything done in the sake of preserving Truckee's history should not be taken lightly.

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The comment sparked some conversation as to the dilapidated motel's historical relevance.

Located one block behind downtown Commercial Row, the building is at the bottom of a hill that extends north toward residences, "without the benefit of neighborhood eyes watching the building at night," according to a town report.

With a grassy hillside and a garage structure directly north, fire officials indicated if a fire was to start inside, the potential for it to spread first to the garage then up the hill is likely, especially during the dry period the region is experiencing.

"It certainly reflects on a certain era of Truckee history with the auto court design," McLaughlin joked. "Realistically, this structure couldn't be saved, though."

Given how other historically significant buildings along Jibboom Street had been lost through the years, the motel, owned by Truckee resident John McManus, was determined not to be a contributor to the town's preservation.

Though much of the exterior of the building had been stripped of health concerns such as asbestos and lead paint, the interior had not, said Tom Watkins, speaking on behalf of McManus.

Two residents spoke during public comment in favor of demolition.

"Does the historical nature of the building outweigh the health and safety concern to the community, which it clearly does not," said Matt Hippler, whose family lives in proximity to the motel.

Mountain Area Preservation Executive Director Alexis Ollar voiced a similar sentiment: "While it is a safety issue, it is an opportunity for community development."

With approval, Watson said McManus' intent is to move ahead within the next 30 days. McManus will also bear the cost of the demolition and cleanup.

"The town is not providing any financial incentives associated with this demolition," McLaughlin said.

Town officials have not made any plans to redevelop the location at this point, McLaughlin said, and any future decisions may be vetted with Watson or McManus.