Four months behind schedule and 15 percent over his anticipated budget in building Inverness’ new downtown extended-stay hotel, hotelier Dr. Paresh Desai said the Springwood Suites hotel will open by Jan. 15. A few minutes later he said, “Maybe by the end of January.”
“Hope is the main thing,” Desai said, walking through the three-story unfinished hotel on Seminole Avenue.
“I have no regrets (about the project),” he said, stepping on thick brown paper on the floors to protect new rugs. “I have worked hard for this.”
“I have ... done more than 10 hotel projects and this has been the most difficult,” he said.
The plan was to be operational and renting the hotel’s 72 suites well before the holidays and Inverness’ fall festivities. The plan was also to have most of the long-term suites rented to doctors’ participating in HCA Florida Citrus Hospital residency program, traveling nurses, and other visitors to Inverness’ medical facilities.
But that was not to be, Desai lamented.
The delays and cost overruns were almost inevitable given the lack of this area’s skilled construction labor force and supply chain problems that continue to deeply plague the industry, Desai said.
Dr. Paresh Desai, right, and project superintendent Randy Smith
of D.I. Construction from Dawsonville, Georgia, discuss
construction on the new Woodspring Suites in Inverness.
As for workers, Randy Smith, Desai’s project superintendent, said he’s had to attract skilled labor from throughout Florida, and even neighboring states.
That’s added to the cost of the project because those workers have to be housed, he said, adding, “Everyone is having to travel.”
At any given day at the work site there are usually about 15 laborers, Smith said. Given what needs to still be done, Smith said there should be 20 there every day.
Then there is the issue of materials.
Despite ordering supplies for the hotel a year ago, Desai said that many items arrived several months late. And because of that, the normal workflow and inspections were badly disrupted.
For example, he said, each suite has its own fuse box and that they were installed with no problem. But the fuse box covers had to be ordered separately and they arrived months late. That meant the fuse boxes couldn’t be inspected by the city and signed off on, making that job done.
Desai said that scenario was true for an array of materials such as bathtubs, door handles, and kitchenette sinks.
Dr. Paresh Desai is the driving force behind a new hotel in
downtown Inverness. It is expected to open in early 2023.
Oversights that would have easily been corrected in the past became headaches on this job, Smith said.
One example was baseboard trim; that long rubber trim so often seen in hotels, he said.
When it arrived the manufacturer failed to include the metal clasps used to help fasten it to the floor and wall. It took several phone calls and finally ordering it from another supplier altogether.
Desai said he had in the $7 million hotel budget a 5 percent buffer for cost increases and unforeseen problems, but he’s spent that and two more times over.
On the bright side, Desai said, the financial lender, Insight Credit Union in Inverness, has been especially helpful given the delays. In addition, city officials have been understanding and flexible when changes to the project or schedules had to be made unexpectedly.
Smith, who works for D.I. Construction and lives near Atlanta, stays positive.
“It’s just part of it,” Smith said. They’re challenges to overcome.”
But to move the project along, Smith stays in Inverness to keep working. He was scheduled to go home every three weeks, but cancelled those trips months ago.
Desai is not deterred.
Woodspring Suites is nearly complete and will open in early
He bought the two-acre site from the Citrus County Hospital Board while it was still part of the lease to Hospital Corporation of America. It took two years for the hospital board, Desai and HCA to take out the two acres from the hospital lease and sell the property to Desai.
“This is a special project,” Desai said. “And ... things like this happen. What can you do? Like I said, hope is the main thing.”