The Neptune Motor Inn closed its doors at the end of April.

The Neptune Motor Inn closed its doors at the end of April.

Neptune closure increases housing pressures

The Neptune Motor Inn closed its doors at the end of April, forcing more than a dozen tenants to find alternative housing.

The Neptune Motor Inn closed its doors at the end of April, forcing more than a dozen tenants to find alternative housing.

The Chamberlain Avenue hotel opened its doors more than three decades ago, and was purchased by Macro Properties nearly 10 years ago as part of a strategic plan.

But when it became a struggle to fill rooms, Macro Properties established a low monthly rental rate to in order to keep the Neptune Motor Inn afloat.

“If you look around town, there’s a lot of vacancies in the hotels and that hotel is way out of the downtown area. Trying to get people in there was a challenge for us,” explained Imran Jivraj, Macro’s director of property management.

“With all of the hotels in the core being vacant, we were completely dead.”

Despite its efforts, Jivraj said Macro Properties continued to lose money by keeping the Neptune in operation.

“With the damages in there and the barriers, our (operating expenses were) going up. It just wasn’t worth it to us; we were losing money … Every year the negative growth was getting higher and higher. We did everything we could to manage that, but it just didn’t work out,” he said.

Earlier this year all of the people renting rooms at the Neptune Motor Inn were served notices to end tenancy. Jivraj said there had been approximately 14 tenants residing at the Neptune before it closed its doors on April 30.

“For the most part, we were able to help them out, transitioning them into other places, giving them references and so forth,” he said.

Macro Properties is keeping the Neptune Motor Inn under its ownership, but Jivraj said the hotel will remain closed until the economy picks up and additional hotel rooms are needed.

“Right now, we are in a major clean up mode. There’s all kinds of issues in there,” he said.

While the closure of the Neptune has reduced the number of housing options available to those in the low-income bracket in Prince Rupert, a representative with BC Housing said the agency hasn’t noticed a spike in housing applications since notices were handed out.

“Twenty-eight families and 12 seniors households have recently applied for subsidized housing or rent supplements. Over the course of a year, this is an average application rate,” said Donna Cairns,  senior manager of communications for BC Housing.

BC Housing currently has a waiting list for individuals and families applying for social housing units in Prince Rupert.