AD1 files plan & picks flags for hotel near SeaWorld & I-Drive, road contractor sought

Hollywood-based hotel owner-operator AD1 Global filed plans on Thursday with Orange County and named Starwood flags Aloft and Element by Westin for a dual-brand property southeast of SeaWorld, while a neighboring land owner is still seeking contractors and an architect for an access road and adult dayclub swimming pool to be built this year. 

GrowthSpotter first reported on May 30 that AD1 had the 5.18-acre site under contract, based just off the southeast corner of Central Florida Parkway and International Drive, with closing on the land estimated for August.

"We feel those are the right brands for the area, which is a mix of leisure and convention center business," CFO Alex Fridson told GrowthSpotter on Friday. "These are two high-performing brands in any market, but we feel they are the best fit for this project." 

The site has been marketed for sale over the past year by Sanford-based developer Matthew Gillio, which he and a partner have owned through an affiliate since September 2005 when it was planned for timeshare project Bella Casa Resort.

Gillio had Development Plans approved by Orange County last year for two select-service hotels on the property totaling 315 rooms, with flags Cambria Suites and Element by Westin floated at the time as options. 

AD1's new DP calls for 280 keys over seven stories for the dual-brand property, 245 parking spaces and a merging of Gillio's two taxable parcels. Shared amenities at the property include a pool, fite pit, activity lawn and splash pad.

Pending county permit approvals, AD1 aims to break ground in First Quarter 2018, with a projected opening by Q3 2019. 

Cuhaci & Peterson is now the project architect for AD1, and KPM Franklin is civil engineer. No general contractor has been selected thus far, Fridzon said. 

This would be the second Aloft-branded hotel in the Greater Orlando market following Downtown Orlando, and likely the first Element to be built, if it moves ahead of two stagnant Element-branded projects at Orlando Fashion Square Mall and Carrier Drive in the tourism corridor. 

AD1 plans to partner on this development with Estrategia Urbana, a commercial real estate developer from Mexico City that is beginning to expand into the United States. 

Projected investment for the Central Florida Parkway project is near $50 million, AD1 president Daniel Berman said in late May. It would be funded by AD1 equity and a construction loan yet to be sought. 

EB-5 investors may be pursued as well, company executives said, as AD1 is trying to increase its project exposure to EB-5 with new regional center partners. 

AD1 currently owns three hotels in the Greater Orlando market, and is trying to expand its hotel management affiliate to new properties in the region. 

Directly south of the 5.18 acres under contract is a 3.41-acre parcel parcel Gillio sold last year to local nightclub and restaurant owner Nicholas Virthe, who is still planning a dayclub swimming pool for adults, similar to how hotel pools are used on the Las Vegas strip. 

Virthe and civil engineer HB Associates filed in mid-May for permits to build utilities and a private Resort Drive connecting his property and the hotel sites to Central Florida Parkway and I-Drive.

He is responsible for building the entirety of the road, a condition of his land purchase, and is still waiting on construction permit approvals from the county, Virthe told GrowthSpotter on Thursday. 

He hopes to start construction on the road in September, and has yet to hire a general contractor for the work. Virthe said he's considering several quotes from GCs, with the best price offer currently $223,000 all-in and 45 to 60 days for the work.

Virthe also hopes to start construction on the 25,000-square-foot dayclub pool immediately after the road this year. A DP has yet to be finalized and submitted to the county, he said, opting to wait for approval of the road permit.

"So much was depending on the road approval and with what Gillio was going to do with the hotel sites, so we've waited, but now we know what hotels will be going there," Virthe said.  

A GC has not been chosen for the dayclub pool project, he added, and multiple architects are bidding without a selection made. 

Development for the Central Florida Parkway property is moving faster than AD1's work on 57-plus acres in southwest Orange County near Four Corners, where it has been refining zoning and plans since December for a trio of select service hotels totaling 429 rooms and a shared water park. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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