Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Drug Addiction Rehab Center Coming To Port LaBelle Inn?
Homeless Shelter Non-Profit Planning To Take Over Hotel To House Recovering Addicts
LABELLE, FL. -- A large non-profit organization may be planning to house drug addicts and the homeless at the 47-room Port LaBelle Inn. Applications filed with Hendry County indicate Saint Matthews House of Collier county wants to change the property from commercial hotel and agricultural use to religious and institutional use.
The property has been for sale for several years and in May a psychologist contacted local official to get their take on putting recovering addicts at the Port LaBelle Inn as part of a profit-making corporation headed by the doctor. That deal fell through reportedly over price negotiations, but now Collier County's St. Matthews House has proposed plans to use a reported multi-million dollar grant to take over the 1980s hotel and restaurant.
St. Matthews House runs homeless shelters and drug rehab facilities in Southwest Florida and took over the Immokalee Friendship House in 2008 noticing that many men, women, and children, many them migrants, had no place to sleep at night.
The Immokalee facility and other facilities of St. Matthews House may well be a model for the group's plans in LaBelle. The Immokalee center provides meals, clothing, and shelter to thousands of individuals in Collier County and is nearly always at capacity, quite often including families with young children, says the organization's web site.
"Abused women and children, migrant farm workers, convalescents, people fighting addiction, and families that recently suffered a loss of income all come through the doors of the Immokalee Friendship House."
St. Matthews House also operates "Justin's Place Recovery" serving homeless suffering from substance abuse and addiction. According to St Matthews House when "residents enter our Structured Recovery Program, they subsequently submit themselves to our rules and regulations, which in turn lead to the self-respect that comes from accountability. They must be sober and make a commitment to very specific standards and rules, and have a willingness to begin the task of rebuilding their lives. Our program offers compassionate, disciplined counseling and guidance to each resident's physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges."
Included in resident rules are a wake-up at 6 a.m. and they must be out by 8 a.m. either gainfully employed or looking for a job. Residents pay a $50/week program fee, which is the payment required to live at St. Matthew's House and all are required to make "timely payment of court fees and/or child support, if applicable."
The organization also runs Wolfe Apartments., a 46-unit transitional living complex in the Golden Gate area of Naples opened in 2003 providing a drug and alcohol-free structured community with guidance and support provided by an on-site staff. Fourteen units are dedicated to the permanently disabled with rents adjusted to their income.
"The Wolfe Apartments serves the residents who graduate from our Recovery Program as well as the homeless in our community," says the organization's web site.
Among some of the requirements for tenants, "they must have remained sober for at least six consecutive months and submit to random drug/alcohol testing and be homeless according to HUD standards" and "attend Narcotics and/or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at lest three times per week and stay in contact with sponsor."
LaBelle Hotel Changed Hands Repeatedly In Last 10 Years
The Port LaBelle Inn property, in Hendry county, is situated across the street from the Port LaBelle Marina and 100 townhouses and condos in Glades county. It has gone through numerous owners and legal action over the last decade, now owned and operated by an Ohio truck stop father and son team. The property was purchased in September 2008 for a $900,000, and after some upgrades put back on the market for a bit under $2 million.
Sales prices for the property have ranged from $715,000 in June 2003 to $4,000,000 in November 2005.
The current owner, Ed J. Yasechko of Hubbard, Ohio runs the hotel with his son, through Port LaBelle Inn LLC. They first advertised tried to sell the hotel as senior assisted living facility without success, and most recently have run adverting to sell the hotel as a bed and breakfast inn.
Sales listings claim a 60% annual occupancy rate, at $64.00 avg daily room rate. The listing said gross revenue is $663,000 which includes $430,000 room revenue and $233,000 restaurant revenue.
With what some say is a bad location for a hotel, the customers over the past few years have primarily been road construction workers employed by out of area companies expanding State Road 80 to four lanes.
The Oxbow Grill had been leased out unsuccessfully over the years. The current owners have taken control of the restaurant but see most nights a usually almost empty dining room. A driving school leases a downstairs office space.
Hearings will be advertised and scheduled by Hendry County for public input on the proposed change in use of the hotel. Nearby property owners will also be notified by letter say Hendry officials.
(Photo: Port LaBelle Inn file photo)