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Bringing beauty back into the Blue Gables

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Trash must be cleared before renovation can begin

By Ashley Wilkins

Residents may have vacated the old Blue Gables Motel Monday, but that does not mean the rooms are currently without inhabitants.  On a tour of the building Thursday afternoon, roaches, bedbugs and other forms of life scaled the walls and scooted across the floors of the apartments that some Shelbyville residents called home just days ago.

This week, the Shelbyville Preservation Group purchased and obtained the hotel turned low-income housing with the hopes of restoring the dilapidated, yet historic property.

Kerry Magan, speaking for SPG, stated that the group decided three years ago that they wanted to turn the property into something positive and prosperous for the city and began the application process for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant.

SPG raised the $125,000 in matching funds, and late last week the grant came through. Taking into consideration the cost of the building combined with various fees, the SPG is expecting to spend nearly $435,000.

While it has not been decided what the property will be used for, Magan said the group has considered marketing the restored units toward local artisans.

But restoring the property will be an uphill battle, starting with a dumpster.

Even though all the units are without tenants, none are empty.  Many rooms are filled with couches, clothes, mattresses, garbage, food, bug-infested refrigerators, toilets filled with feces and showers covered in mold and rust.

This week, the property’s previous owner, Mark Stivers, is expected to clear out those units, but Magan said SPG knows there is a bit of work ahead of them, noting an exterminator would be visiting in the near future.

Following the clearing of the rooms, Magan said each room will need to be gutted down to the bare bones, but that can’t begin until after the group meets again to discuss the next steps.

But the plan remains to have some rooms in use as early as this fall.

While financial and legal surprises have already occurred along the way, Magan said he expects the SPG will hit a few more stumbles before the restoration is complete, but the group is excited about what is to come.

While not sure if the walls separating the units would be removed, Magan stated that they have considered opening a couple of demo units early on.

Though many of the previous residents lived questionable lives inside the Blue Gable’s units and partook in behaviors many may not agree with, Magan said the group looks forward to bringing the beauty back into the historic hotel.