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A new boutique hotel is coming to Winter Garden — its first in decades.

“This really will be the first new hotel in Winter Garden since I don’t know how long,” City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said. “One of our biggest demands has been for more hotels.”

Downtown Winter Garden’s historic Edgewater Hotel at 99 W. Plant St. turned 90 years old in 2017. Other lodgings are smaller in comparison or outside the region’s downtown.

Winter Garden has massive resorts like BTI Partners‘ The Grove Resort & Water Park and the 64-acre Liki Tiki Village development by Diamond Resorts. A steady stream of hotels are also being planned in its fast-growing Horizon West area.

A site plan showing the boutique hotel on the northwest corner of North Highland Avenue and Plant Street.
A site plan showing the boutique hotel on the northwest corner of North Highland Avenue and Plant Street.

An old hotel analysis used by city staff shows a need for at least 250 hotel rooms in the area, but in a recent interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Bollhoefer said that number is likely close to 400 rooms.

Now, at least 60 guest rooms are in the works.

Orlando-based JA Hospitality is developing a new 45,000-square-foot boutique hotel at 8 N. Highland Ave. Plans submitted to the city depict a three-story hotel with 60 guest rooms and a pool on the second floor.

CEO Peter Watzka told GrowthSpotter the firm is partnering with local investors on the project and expects to break ground in early 2020. Delivery is slated for the second quarter of 2021, he said. The development scored its final approvals from the city the final week of June.

JA Hospitality is a boutique hotel development and management company that was founded in 2013. Its projects include The Coachman in South Lake Tahoe, which opened its doors in 2016.

Prior to JA Hospitality, Watzka held executive positions at multiple Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation brands, including Marriott Vacation Club International and The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club.

The boutique hotel in Winter Garden will replace a former billing office for Progress Energy. The half-acre site, acquired by the city in 1995 for $220,000, is across West Plant Street from City Hall.

Nearby, art aficionado and business owner Gary Hasson is re-purposing the city’s old citrus packing plant for the South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Association.

Hasson paid $2.1 million for the 3.7-acre site last year with plans to turn the nearly 40,000-square-foot building into a new commercial center with retailers that specialize in art and artisan food concepts.

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