AN ICONIC MOTEL sign shaped like the state Florida harkens back to mid-century road trips while the rest of the property signals it’s time for a change.
The Florida Motel, opened in Gainesville in the 1950s, was set to close in late June to make way for a new Comfort Suites, according to the Gainesville Sun.
Hotel Development and Management Group of Ocala, Florida, has acquired the motel with plans to raze it and construct the 105-room Choice Hotels-branded property. Navroz Saju is CEO and president of HDMG and Azim Saju is vice president.
Dipakkumar Patel had owned The Florida Motel for the past 10 years. He believes the motel opened in 1953. That was when U.S. 441 was the main thoroughfare between Gainesville and Ocala and before Interstate 75 was constructed.
HDMG is waiting on local government permits and approval of its development plan, Azim Saju told the newspaper. He hopes to have the project completed by early 2020.
The hotel will have a pool and a fire pit. The property will primarily target business travelers but will also fill a need for more rooms during sporting events at nearby Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, where the University of Florida Gators play.
Although the motel will become a memory, the vintage 10-foot sign is a keeper. Saju said HDMG may either use it as part of the new hotel’s décor or donate it to a local museum.
“The sign is iconic,” Saju said. “We understand it might be important to some in the community and we’re talking with (Patel) about the best place for the sign.”
HDMG owns 13 hotels in Florida. The family business, which has grown through franchising, has two hotels under construction – a SpringHill Suites in Ocala and a TownePlace Suites in Titusville.