Vacant, visible Benchmark Hotel declared public nuisance

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The fate of an empty yet visible Memphis hotel was decided in a Shelby County courtroom Thursday.

The Benchmark Hotel across from AutoZone Park hasn't been used for years, and some citizens want it declared a public nuisance. On Thursday, a judge declared the hotel a public nuisance.

It was a very long day in court for both the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC) and the owner of the Benchmark Hotel--both sides argued back and forth.

The DMC argued the hotel has been vacant for so long and has caused safety hazards with no lights and debris everywhere.

They presented pictures from a city code inspector that showed broken windows, graffiti on walls, and trash on the ground.

Meanwhile, the hotel's owner, MNR Hospitality LLC, argued that it only looks that way because it's a construction zone.

The DMC filed a lawsuit against the building's owner in November. However, the owner said they've already got plans in place for a new Marriott hotel to go in that location.

Nearby business owners, such as the Peabody and Rendezvous BBQ, said it's affecting business, hotels are complaining, and they'd have to see it to believe it.

The judge said he wants both sides to work together and wants to see plans for a new hotel in the next few weeks.

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