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Miami-based ICM Development is moving forward with plans to convert two W192 hotels into affordable workforce housing.

ICM founder Carlos Balzola is negotiating a purchase contract with Carter Hospitality Group for the Red Lion Hotel Kissimmee Maingate, a sprawling 550-room property at 7300 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. It was the Washington-based hotel group’s first Red Lion Hotel flag in Florida.

The hotel occupies nearly 16 acres just west of Disney property. It was built in phases, beginning in 1974.

Balzola, who also owns the Bahama Bay Resort community in Kissimmee, and his design team met in June with Osceola County’s planning staff to outline plans for the hotel conversion. Ed Carlson with Cornerstone Property is a joint venture partner on the project.

Architect Bruce Arthur of WHA Design told the staff the initial “Lionsgate” concept calls for converting the hotel into roughly 350 rental apartments and relocating the pool. The development team is also looking to convert some of the common space and meeting rooms into commercial and office uses.

“We’d like to bring in a gym franchise to take about 15,000 square feet,” Arthur said. “There’s about 30,000 square feet of space here we’d like to repurpose. We could maybe do a market, a coffee shop and a laundromat. And we could take the front rooms and do some smaller uses, like a nail salon or dry cleaner.”

They also hoped to utilize a remote parking lot in the northwest corner of the property with W192 frontage into a retail outparcel suitable for a quick-service restaurant with drive-thru window.

The developer enlisted land use attorney Julie Kendig-Schrader of Greenberg Traurig to assist with the zoning and entitlements for the property, which is currently zoned as a Planned Development. WHA applied earlier this month to rezone the hotel to a Commercial Tourist zoning category, which would allow for multifamily housing as well as the proposed retail uses.

“Right now, I’m looking at how to make the project work under workforce housing with the (school) impact fees,” Kendig-Schrader told the planning staff.

The developer also would have to bear the expense of installing a fire sprinkler system throughout the property.

The same development group filed a rezoning application for the former Claremont Hotel at 6051 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, right across from the Water Tower Shoppes at Celebration. That former 355-room hotel was sold in September 2014 to the same Miami group that renovated the GreenPoint Kissimmee hotel. They planned to reopen it as the GreenPoint Celebration condo hotel but never finished the renovation.

ICM Development now lists the property on its portfolio on the company website. Arthur and Balzola told GrowthSpotter the plan for the GreenPoint Celebration is the same as Lionsgate – to convert it to workforce housing and add retail uses at the front of the property.

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