Updated: November 18, 2015 7:33 PM — Wisconsin-based Great Wolf Resorts is under contract to buy the last huge tract of undeveloped land directly east of Disney Springs, the company's senior vice president of development told GrowthSpotter on Wednesday, though it's unclear if a previously projected price of up to $44 million will be met.
The owner-operator of 14 resorts with indoor water parks across the country is carrying out due diligence on the 49.7 acres, Alex Lombardo said.
He went before Orange County's Development Review Committee on Wednesday, along with attorney Pat Christiansen of Akerman LLP, to confirm the property's zoning would allow for their intended use.
Great Wolf Resorts, which deems itself the world's largest chain of indoor water parks, told the county it plans an 800-key hotel with an embedded 100,000-square-foot water park on the property, along with accessory uses like restaurants, arcade, a spa, fitness center and more. It would be Great Wolf Resorts' first location in Florida.
"Orlando has been a market of interest of ours for a long time, with its family travel demographic fitting very well with our business model," Lombardo said. "We've had interest in this parcel for some time as well, with its size and proximity (to Walt Disney World)."
The property has been marketed since early this summer by CBRE's Land Services Group in Orlando for current owner Garrison Investment Group of New York, which acquired it in January 2012 for about $8.7 million, GrowthSpotter reported on June 11.
The 49.7 acres are part of the Lake Vista Village PD, which had a substantial change approved in August by the Board of County Commissioners to reduce the maximum yield of hotel/timeshare units from 1,488 to 1,438.
Robert H. McEwan, first vice president of CBRE's Land Services Group, said Wednesday he could not comment on details of this potential sale, but affirmed that a site with capacity for a single, full-service hotel with 1,400-plus keys should demand $30,000 or more per key. That translates to up to $43.8 million in projected value for this land.
Lombardo declined to discuss a negotiated purchase price for the land, citing confidentiality and the due diligence period.
As long as access to the hotel's water park was limited to hotel guests only, this development should fit within the approved PD, county staff told Lombardo.
Christiansen told the DRC board that Great Wolf Resorts may seek a zoning verification letter from the county to confirm their proposed use would fit with the PD, a due diligence step that's become a common requirement of financial lenders.
Accessible by Meadow Creek Drive, the property has frontage to the north on I-4, to the west on the World Marriott Resort's golf course and to the east by Starwood's Vistana Resort. It offers a direct view across the interstate to the $200 million Disney Springs development.