110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Patel family will continue to run hotel until July 2013
posted Nov 15, 2012 - 6:36:08pm
Stetson University is buying University Inn, to use for student housing.
The hotel at 644 N. Woodland Blvd. was built in 1964. For more than four decades it has been a favorite stopping place for visitors to DeLand, providing parents of Stetson University students and visiting athletes a place to stay within easy walking distance of campus.
The Patel family will continue to operate the inn until June 30, 2013. Beginning with the fall semester of 2013, however, University Inn's 60 rooms will become dorm rooms.
Stetson Vice President for Business and Chief Financial Officer Bob Huth said the additional housing for about 112 students is needed to keep pace with Stetson's current push to increase its undergraduate enrollment to 3,000.
"We're in the process of expanding our enrollment, and I saw a new residence hall on track to be built in a very short time, and I didn't like that. Haste makes waste," Huth said.
Converting University Inn will enable Stetson to take until the fall of 2014 to construct another residence hall. By then, Huth said, both University Inn and the new residence hall will be needed for a further expanded student body.
Stetson University currently has an undergraduate enrollment of 2,500, and can accommodate 68 percent of those students in on-campus housing.
The purchase agreement also gives the Patels the opportunity to consider investing in a more modern hotel in the DeLand area.
Quaint and beloved as the University Inn has been, the structure lacks some amenities hotel guests have come to expect in 2012, owners Hina Patel and Sara Patel said.
"We're thinking about another hotel, but that's in the future," Sara Patel said.
"I think what we've accomplished here is a win-win," Huth said.
Even the City of DeLand won't lose. The private, nonprofit university's ownership of University Inn will take the property off the tax roll, but Stetson has committed to making a payment to the city in lieu of property taxes.
For both University Inn and Stetson Cove apartments, a complex on West Pennsylvania Avenue that Stetson University purchased for housing earlier this year, Stetson will pay the city about $13,000 annually, Huth said.
Neither he nor the Patels would disclose the purchase price for University Inn. The Patel family bought the 1.5-acre property in 1997 for $1.88 million, according to records at the Volusia County Property Appraiser's Office. The county currently has the hotel and land valued for tax purposes at $807,341.
Huth said Stetson University will do very little remodeling of University Inn, aside from construction of some storage space and adding new furniture.
"The Patels have taken excellent care of this place in a difficult economic environment," he said.
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