Large fire at foreclosed hotel in Hamilton County closed road, required multiple agencies

A fire at the vacant Carrousel Inn & Suites building on Reading Rd. in Sycamore Township raged for hours while firefighters from multiple different agencies were called in to help. EMILY GIBNEY / CONTRIBUTED
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A fire at the vacant Carrousel Inn & Suites building on Reading Rd. in Sycamore Township raged for hours while firefighters from multiple different agencies were called in to help. EMILY GIBNEY / CONTRIBUTED

SYCAMORE TWP. — A fire at the vacant Carrousel Inn & Suites building on Reading Rd. in Sycamore Township raged for hours while firefighters from multiple different agencies were called in to help.

Reading Rd. was also closed in both directions for hours while firefighters battled the blaze.

Rob Penny, Sycamore Township fire chief, said there’s no electrical in the derelict building, so they believe the fire may have stemmed from squatters inside.

He said the building has caught fire before and is a nuisance. It was most recently owned by an affiliate of Blue Tide Partners, which former Cincinnati Bengal Doug Pelfrey launched in 2011 to make real estate investments in single-family homes and apartment buildings.

Pelfrey planned to convert the Carrousel Inn into housing for veterans, but he was unable to secure Sycamore Township zoning approvals for the project. The buildings on the property have since sat there, deteriorating.

Blue Tide Partners lost a $39.9 million foreclosure judgment in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in September, and has been in default since Jan. 2019. The Carrousel is one of 25 properties caught up in the foreclosure.

Prodigy Properties, which replaced Blue Tide Partners as managers of the foreclosure hotels, drafted a July 26 report to Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman pointing out future issues that would plague Blue Tide Partners properties.

The Carrousel was in “absolutely atrocious condition,” said Prodigy’s report. “There is fire damage, water damage, vandalism, evidence of squatters and a myriad of code violations … it appears the defendant received a fire damage insurance payment of approximately $100,000, but did not repair the building.”