WOODBURY, Minn. — Crews began demolishing Key Inn on Wednesday, officially putting an end to the troubled motel.
Plans to redevelop the area at the corner of Valley Creek Road and Woodlane Drive were approved in October by the Woodbury City Council. Minneapolis-based Lupe Development Partners LLC closed on the property in January, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Along with the former motel at 1806 Wooddale Drive, a multi-tenant office building at 6949 Valley Creek Road, which housed a former Spire Credit Union location, will be demolished in mid-April.
The company's redevelopment plan includes a 34,000-square-foot medical building replacing Key Inn in the south area off of Woodlane and Wooddale drives. Construction on the medical building is slated to begin in early or mid-summer, said Aaron Diederich, vice president of construction at Lupe Development.
A multi-tenant retail space in the north area closer to Valley Creek Road will be anchored by a credit union, drive-thru Chick-fil-A restaurant and one other tenant yet to be decided. Construction on the 5,000-square-foot retail building is scheduled to begin in mid-summer, with Chick-fil-A opening around spring 2021, Diederich said.
The motel became Key Inn after the Red Roof Inn chain terminated a lease agreement with the location in 2016. Though its owner hoped for a new start at the time, the newly-minted Key Inn continued to draw the ire of residents for its reputation as a crime hub.
The first high-profile incident may have occurred in August 2012 when Demetrius Ballinger held 11 people at gunpoint and raped several young women at the motel. Woodbury police shot and killed Mark Henderson, 19, as he attempted to escape the hostage situation. A lawsuit filed against the city by his mother, Tawana Henderson, was settled in April 2019. Ballinger was sentenced in 2013 to 36 years in prison for five separate counts, including attempted murder and rape.
VIDEO: Demolition of Key Inn begins in Woodbury
The release of data from the Woodbury Public Safety Department shortly after the 2012 incident prompted calls for the motel to be shut down from concerned community members. Up until Aug. 12 of that year, when Ballinger committed his crimes and Henderson was killed, police had been called to the motel more times than the city's five other lodging establishments combined.
The motel was also the site of underage sex trafficking stings conducted by Washington County and Woodbury public safety in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in the arrests of more than a dozen men.