Southwest 13th Street hotels targeted for treatment centers
Published: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 4:50 p.m.
Old hotels are becoming the locations of choice for residential treatment programs.
Meridian Behavioral Healthcare recently bought the Gator Lodge next to its Sid Martin Bridge House residential substance abuse treatment facility on Southwest 13th Street to use as optional housing for patients in less-intensive treatment.
The location along Williston Road is just a block from the Residence Inn that UF&Shands is in the process of acquiring at 4001 SW 13th St. for residential and outpatient drug and eating-disorders treatment expected to open in July.
The Alachua County Housing Authority had planned to open a transitional housing facility for homeless veterans in the Gainesville Hotel & Conference Center at Tower and Newberry roads but dropped that location in the midst of a lawsuit challenging its permit.
Meridian bought Gator Lodge on Nov. 30 for $530,000 and plans to open it in early or mid-February after renovating it, said Tina Alfieri, specialty coordinator for detox and residential treatment.
The facility will allow Meridian to offer its new partial hospitalization program, which she described as a step down from the full-time mandatory residential treatment it offers next door. PHP patients are in treatment at least 20 hours a week for two to four weeks and have the option of going home at night and on weekends or staying in the facility.
H.M. Patel said he sold the hotel that he bought in 1996 because business was so slow.
"The Gainesville lodging industry is overbuilt," he said. "People can get rooms at newer motels so cheap that we suffer as an independent owner."
Patel also owns the Bambi Motel on Southwest 13th Street, which he said he is going to renovate and keep open.
UF also has purchased the old Guthries and Muffler Man locations on Southwest 13th Street in recent years to fill in its health campus.
UF has no immediate plans for the properties, said Brad Pollitt, vice president over facilities.
"If we don't have something before too long, we'll probably tear down the properties so they don't look derelict," he said.
The properties are meant to support the cancer hospital and could potentially provide clinic space in the future, Pollitt said.
Beau Beery, of Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors, said he has seen local hospitals moving some specialty practices that provide lower revenue out of the hospitals and into off-site office space to make more room for surgery and higher-revenue practices.
Pollitt said changes along Southwest 13th Street in recent years, which include a new CVS and Dollar General, are an improvement from the days when the area was known for a strip club, prostitution and drug use.
"Those of us who have been here a while and remember sin city have been waiting for 13th Street to pick up and become a more vibrant community, so little by little that's starting to happen," he said.
Pollitt said the Residence Inn coming up for sale was an opportunity for the residential treatment program, but UF has no more plans to acquire property on Southwest 13th Street.
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