NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Nashville Fire Department ruled a two-alarm fire that broke out at an abandoned Nashville inn Tuesday night as aggravated arson.
Investigators believe a “money dispute among residents” led to the fire at Harding Inn located on Harding Place around 7:20 p.m.
Officials said although the building was abandoned, people were living inside. Metro police responded to the inn just two days before the fire to look into the matter.
Nashville Fire Chief Ricky White has ordered the owners of the property to provide around-the-clock security to ensure no one occupies the building until it is demolished or has been deemed safe by the department.
The property had previously been deemed a fire hazard under the Metro Nashville Fire Code.
The building’s new owner, Nish Jobalia, purchased the property about two months ago.
“We have a feeling that once we have a construction crew, and a cleanup crew start coming up every day, the homeless people will start moving out because they will know they are not welcome at this property,” explained Jobalia.
Demolition crews are set to tear down the restaurant area of the building on Monday.
“After demolition we will do the cleanup job. Once the cleanup job is done, we make it look presentable for a franchise company to look over,” said Jobalia.
He said he hopes to turn the dilapidated property into a new hotel and overcome its troubled past.
Five year ago, the hotel was shut down and from 2009 to 2010 officers responded to about 300 calls dealing with issues including drugs and prostitution.
Workers with Metro Codes told News 2 the owners have six months to make the needed repairs to the facility.
Investigators are pursuing multiple leads and have made progress on the case.