Beck Heir Upgrades Family’s Motor Lodge
The granddaughter of the man responsible for the Castro’s iconic Beck’s Motor Lodge is preparing to give the motel a major overhaul next year.
Will Beck built the upper Market Street lodging in 1958. The original U-shaped structure features 48 rooms overlooking free off-street parking and a sundeck.
In 1973 an addition fronting 15th Street brought 10 larger rooms in a structure built at the rear of the property. Other than a gaudy salmon-colored repainting in 2001, the biggest change the motel has seen since opening to guests 54 years ago was an upgrade of the bathrooms in the 1980s.
"It is in need of a bigger facelift, which is why I am doing what I am doing," Brittney Beck told the Bay Area Reporter during a recent interview. "We are in the process of working all the details out now."
Beck, 30, bought the property two years ago for an undisclosed amount. The motel and 18,457 square foot lot at 2222 Market Street is valued by the city at nearly $2.7 million.
The remodel could cost as much as $5 million. If the necessary permits are secured this fall, construction would be done in phases starting in 2013. The bargain-priced motel, which caters to the gayborhood’s visitors and patients of nearby hospitals, is not taking reservations past December 31.
Local interior designer Shelly Amoroso is helping Beck with the project. Plans call for all new linens, furniture, and a color scheme of grays, whites, and blues.
As for the room interiors, Beck envisions reconfiguring some of the older units to enlarge the bathrooms, which will once again be given complete makeovers with more modern, eco-friendly amenities. Air conditioners will be added to all 58 rooms.
"It will be more neutral, very clean. But we also have to be true to the fashion of our building," said Beck.
Since taking back control of her family’s motel from the management company that had run it for 30 years, Beck has slowly been imprinting her sensibilities on the property.
"I stayed here to see what it was like," said Beck, who lives in Noe Valley with her husband. "A sense of pride I don’t think was there."
The motel’s large lighted sign, which should remain after the remodel, Beck had repaired so it works again. She added free Wi-Fi, a computerized reservation system and instituted a policy of requiring a credit card at check-in.
"That did make some people shy away from here," said Beck. "It did change the clientele, which I think was for the best. We have some of the best guests who have been staying here for 30 years."
Another significant change she made was installing locked gates on stairways leading to the second and third floors. The change has cut down on the late night cruising the hotel was known for among gay tourists and locals alike.
"Gated stairs has cut cruising traffic but Market Street is right out the front entrance," noted one online review of the hotel from January.
But the motor lodge has yet to completely shed its reputation as being a place to find casual gay sex hookups. In February the local blog SFist referred to it as "a skeezy cruising spot where men go to anonymously bone."
Cognizant of the issue, Beck said she believes the planned remodel will address it. The plan calls for nearly tripling the lobby space by extending it into the parking area along Market Street. A new seating area and fireplace would greet guests.
The current sundeck would be demolished and a new outdoor patio with fireplace would be built above the ground-level lobby extension. A gate would be installed adjacent to the new structure so that the motor lodge is fully enclosed from the street.
"That way anyone coming and going in to the parking lot are guests and guests have to walk in and out of the lobby where they can be greeted with a hello from the staff," said Beck.