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The owner of two International Drive budget hotels north of Carrier Drive wants to maximize his property’s frontage with plans for a new two-story restaurant building, and a pizza franchise in the lobby.

A building permit application was filed last week with Orange County for a new “Pizza@” franchise to be located in the 120-key Heart of I-Drive Hotel‘s lobby, at 7200 International Dr.

This would be the fifth Pizza@ store for franchisee Johnny Peterson, who is also planning a sixth — Pizza@ Pointe Orlando, both targeted for concurrent buildout and opening in October or later this year.

Hotel operator Micah Bass, who also owns the 176-key M @ 6603 I-Drive hotel a half block north, is preparing a Development Plan for a new two-story retail building right in front of the Heart of I-Drive Hotel’s entrance, to replace what is now a portico drive-up entry and some parking spaces.

A view of the Heart of I-Drive Hotel at 7200 International Dr., looking southward.
A view of the Heart of I-Drive Hotel at 7200 International Dr., looking southward.

“We’re reviewing those plans now, my civil engineer is in the process of drawing a conceptual design after meeting with Orange County (planning staff),” Bass told GrowthSpotter. “We have another meeting coming up. If they agree to our square footage and parking we’ll move forward.”

Bass’ concept is for 7,000 to 12,000 square feet and a near-zero lot line against the International Drive sidewalk, with one or two restaurant tenants that utilize the second floor for seating that features a view southward of The Orlando Eye and proposed Skyplex polercoaster.

He believes his vision for the underutilized frontage is in line with Orange County’s new I-Drive District Overlay Zone and code standards adopted in February by the county.

“I see the future of I-Drive requiring density, which I think county planners agree with,” Bass said.

The Sand Lake/Tourist Corridor submarket boasted a 3.8 percent direct vacancy rate and $21.27 price-per-square-foot average asking rate through the first quarter of this year, ranking as the second strongest submarket in Greater Orlando on both points, per Colliers International Central Florida‘s Q1 2017 retail market report.

Bob Winters of Dunhill Properties would serve as leasing agent for the new retail space if developed, while general contractor would likely be Barry L. Watson‘s Southeastern Capital of Orlando, which did interior renovation work on Bass’ The M @ 6603 I-Drive hotel.

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