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Hotel May Change Owners And Use
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Talks are under way to convert the Riverbank Hotel on Third Street to a drug and alcohol-free halfway house or even a drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation center.

Local activist and charity volunteer Scott McRitchie told the Riverbank City Council on Oct. 24 he knew of a dozen or so former tenants who had been forced to leave the hotel on a three day notice and he felt three days was too short a notice even if they lease only on a week-to-week basis.

Raised even before Riverbank's incorporation in 1922, the building was originally named after its owner the King Hotel and reportedly housed the workers on the locomotives running through town. Later it became the Star Lee Hotel and fairly recently was renamed the Riverbank Hotel. It has about 25 rooms, some single and some holding two or three people, said McRitchie.

Asked by the council for comment, city Development Services Director J.D. Hightower said he had only learned of a possible change in ownership and use that same day when representatives of a corporation interested in buying the building had contacted him.

Conversion to a drug and alcohol free building was possible under its current use rating by California law as a boarding house and he personally approved the idea. But change to a treatment and rehabilitation center would take it into another use category that would require extensive improvements to meet fire safety and disabled access laws, Hightower said.

In either case the building would require rehabilitation and the latter approach would involve considerable expense.