After more than two years of leasing the Liberty Inn Motel, homeless advocate George Valldejuli paid $1.45 million on Monday to buy the 40-year-old property.
Valldejuli had been operating his nonprofit Home for the Homeless Foundation out of the 65-room motel, using it as transitional housing for the working poor. He offered weekly and monthly rates, and worked with families to find more permanent housing.
"I don't take (people on) food stamps or Social Security," he told GrowthSpotter. "I want W-2s. You have to pay FICA and taxes like everybody else."
But after watching the uncollected debts pile up, Valldejuli said the only way to continue his mission would be to scale it down and convert the majority of the rooms back to a traditional motel.
"I have to cut the line and have at least one building dedicated to tourists," he said. "I've got to generate income."
To that end, he recently embarked on a total renovation on everything from the parking lot to the roof. He said the property would be painted inside and out, bathrooms will be retiled and renovated, and all the carpet will be replaced with laminate floors.
"I know every problem with this building," he said. "It was built in the 1970s. There are some rooms where you open the door and floor has collapsed."
Each room will receive new furnishings, air conditioner units and TVs, he said. By the end of the renovation, he hopes to be able to charge $49 to $59 nightly rates.
Valldejuli said he already has $165,000 earmarked for renovations and is seeking a $500,000 credit line to complete the work.
The seller, HKR Poinciana LLC, provided $400,000 in financing, and Valldejuli borrowed $1.16 million from Raleigh-based North State Bank.
The motel is just off W192 at the intersection of North Poinciana Boulevard. The 1.8-acre parcel is immediately behind a Walgreen's store and Perkins restaurant, and it's between a Comfort Inn that sold last year for $4.3 million and the Red Lion Orlando, which is set to open in the fall after a multi-million dollar renovation.