JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the first time Tuesday night, News4JAX spoke with the former property owner of a Baymeadows extended stay motel, who was hoping to clear up confusion and concerns.
Last week, residents of the America’s Best Inn in the Baymeadows Center area were suddenly told they had to pack up and leave in order to do renovations. Since then, many people have been left scrambling.
We talked to the man listed in court records as the property owner — Samuel Bonnardel — over the phone. He said that several months ago, he sold off his stakes in the property, which is owned by several developers.
“There’s nothing to hide. We’re not trying to put anybody on the streets,” Bonnardel said. “With all the trouble happening and everything, we figured this is the best time to have the property vacant because the buyers are converting it to apartments.”
Bonnardel said they are trying to renovate the property so they can sell it within the next few months.
“We have to clear the place out at this point, right? And the property has to get fixed up,” Bonnardel said.
But his messages were mixed.
“Look, if they paid—they stay there until their reservation is over, but that’s not the thing. The thing is they’re squatting there. They don’t wanna do nothing,” Bonnardel said.
Bonnardel says he’s sent managers to talk about options with current residents but it has caused tensions to rise.
“I already went through four people. They tell me they are absolutely not doing it,” Bonnardel said. “They go there, the guests are threatening them. They feel uncomfortable and just leave. I try to send someone with the police to at least try to square things away and it was just too hard.”
Kyle Humphreys, who has lived at the motel for years, said a manager escorted by police officers told them to leave Tuesday.
“She said if you guys don’t get out peacefully, we’re gonna get you out one way or another, so, basically threatened us to get out,” Humphreys said.
He added, “If we got kicked out right now, we’d be on the streets. Seriously, on the streets.”
On Tuesday, a number of people were still at the motel despites the notices on paper and in person. Some residents said they still don’t plan on moving out.
Bonnardel said if comes down to it, the property owners will take legal action in order to vacate the motel.