Alachua County authorized the purchase of a second vacant motel Tuesday after a unanimous vote directed staff to finalize a contract for the Scottish Inn off SW 13th Street.
The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved $1.8 million for the purchase, and the county plans to turn the 31-unit motel into permanent supportive housing.
Claudia Tuck, county director of community support services, said the appraisals came in under the estimate, saving some money. She added that the process of converting old motels and hotels into affordable housing is a nationwide best practice.
Commissioner Anna Prizzia said she was nervous because of the hassle to secure funding and move forward with the first motel the county purchased.
Alachua County purchased the Budget Inn in 2021 to also turn into housing, and Gov. Ron DeSantis approved $4 million for the project in 2022. At the time, the county said it hoped to finish the renovations and open the inn within 12 months, but the timeline has fallen through as the county works to get the funding.
Last month, law enforcement officials cleared the motel of 19 squatters who had trespassed and were staying there. The county said the individuals caused significant damage to the vacant motel. In February 2023, law enforcement also responded to the site and removed trespassers.
Tuck said the funding for the Scottish Inn is already in the county’s accounts, allowing immediate progress.
Dan Whitcraft, facilities director, said planning and design will take five to six months followed by eight or nine months of construction. He said the Scottish Inn revamp would likely be done during the first half of 2025.
The motel purchase also comes with adjacent vacant land. Tuck said the project will likely have leftover funds that may be used for tiny homes on the site.