Architect's 48-hour redesign effort saves Brazilian group's hotel plan near I-Drive

Brazilian hotel owner-operator Grupo Atlantico has scrapped and redrawn plans within the past week for its first North American hotel in Orlando's tourism corridor, led by an architect's 48-hour design binge to keep the project on schedule. 

When Grupo Atlantico bought the 2.35-acre site at 5871 Carrier Dr. in mid-August they thought it was shovel-ready, with a preliminary site plan included that they were told had been vetted by city staff for a six-story, 157-key hotel. 

New ownership had a rapid development schedule they wanted to keep, aiming to submit a finished Master Plan with renderings and elevations by Oct. 23 to get on the city's Planning and Zoning Board agenda for Dec. 19. 

They did so, with new architect Damaris Hollingsworth of Minneapolis-based THOR Design Plus adding a seventh floor to the concept plans acquired and boosting the room count by 30, to 187.

But a meeting last Tuesday (Nov. 7) threw a wrench into that ambitious schedule. 

City planning staff informed Hollingsworth and her client that the original plans inherited were far from ready for approval. Prior design flaws included a parking shortage, inadequate setback distance and more aspects that weren't compliant with the city's International Drive Special Plan. 

The building's original L-shaped footprint would no longer fit on the  site with the additional surface parking needs. Hollingsworth had to decide quickly how to save her client a month or more of delays and thousands of dollars in design cost. 

So she went to work over the next 48 hours and completely redesigned the site plan, rendering and elevations. In the process, she was able to add six more rooms and new amenity space. 

The marathon work session paid off with a positive response from planning staff on Friday, keeping the project on track for December's PZB meeting.

"We were upset at first with the city's feedback, but now it's most definitely a better building," Hollingsworth told GrowthSpotter. "I literally didn't sleep on Wednesday and Thursday, but I love what I do when I get in that creative zone, and the building is definitely our design now." 

The building was changed from its original L-shape to a linear footprint with a slight curve to accommodate Carrier Drive, closer placement along the frontage and all parking moved behind. 

New design efficiencies were found, wood-panel accents were added to the face of the hotel's design, and the room count was increased by six to 193 without a change to floor plans by converting large suites into extra standard rooms. 

A new small convenience store and vending machine room were added as new amenities to the planned 800 square feet of meeting space, 60-seat restaurant, 20-seat indoor/outdoor bar, swimming pool, fitness center and guest laundry room. 

Total project cost should not shift much from the $17.5 million previously estimated by Fabio Rodriguez, director at Grupo Atlantico. The developer plans to fund that entirely with its own equity.

"Now everything makes much better sense for the guest experience," Hollingsworth said. "This building will be easier to build than the previous design, it was really a matter of floor plan efficiency. (Grupo Atlantico) won't be paying extra money to build the additional rooms, except for the added plumbing costs." 

This is THOR Design Plus' first architecture work in the Orlando market, but THOR Construction had a satellite office here up until last year, and has served as general contractor on multiple Disney properties. 

Based in Santos, a coastal city in Sao Paulo state, Grupo Atlantico owns and operates four hotels under its own family of brands that run the gamut from hostel to full service.

March 2018 remains targeted for a construction start. Dan Daniels of Merritt Island-based Grand Ave SKJ Management, LLC will serve as the construction manager. 

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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