With hurricane season officially in play, Sanjay Patel is hours away from reopening the Oak Park Inn on Oak Street in Arcadia.
Which is poetic, as the historic building—built in 1904—took heavy damage during Hurricane Irma in 2017. The storm ripped off the roof and part of the structure’s facade, blowing pieces north, south, east and west of the building.
Patel said he will be opening the bed-and-breakfast-styled inn today, an official DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting and openhouse set for 5:30 p.m. You are invited to visit.
Patel has been in the hotel business for almost 20 years. He finalized the purchase of the building in June 2018. As far as reopening the inn on the verge of another hurricane season, he said they feel that they are prepared for the worst.
“We are always worried about hurricanes,” said Patel, who has lived in Southwest Florida for a few years now but had moved from St. Louis. “But if you do certain things right ... (well) certain things (like hurricanes) are beyond your control but I have tried my best to do what is required (to protect the building).”
In DeSoto County, Irma’s wind gusts in September 2017 were estimated to have ranged from 69 to 81 mph, according to a storm data study conducted by the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Information.
“For my building, the way that I have done my roof and the way we did the structure on the top ... the contractor says there it can withstand 160 mile wind speed,” Patel said. “We had to gut out the whole property and start doing everything new except the external structure.”
Today’s opening will include representatives of the city, the county and the local chamber of commerce, according to Patel. The two-story inn has 12 rooms, all refurbished.
Patel’s goal with the inn is to bring Arcadia’s past into its future.
“Here, at the inn, every room has its own theme,” Patel said. “We want to bring our guests back to old memories. I want to bring those old memories back to the guests.”