UPDATED: August 22, 2018 7:50 PM — Great Wolf Resorts has sold property along Interstate 4 it purchased two years ago to an affiliate of AIC Hotel Group, which is associated with Nobu and other hotel brands, for a recorded $32.75 million, according to Orange County documents Wednesday afternoon.
Great Wolf had bought the property, a pair of parcels east of Disney Springs totaling about 50 acres, for $23 million in January 2016. Prior to that transaction, the hospitality company was acquired by Centerbridge Partners.
The company known for its large, Great Wolf Lodge-branded indoor water parks told Orange County it planned 800 hotel rooms and a 100,000-square-foot water park on the property, along with a spa, restaurants and more.
"They decided not to develop it, but they weren't actively marketing the site," CBRE's Robert McEwan told GrowthSpotter. "We had a relationship with the buyer, and we knew they were looking for land in Orlando, so we brought the two of them together."
It was the third time he sold the property, he added.
Records connect the purchase to Coral Gables-based AIC, which also is associated with Hard Rock-branded casino and hotel properties. In Orlando, Hard Rock Hotel is a Loews property.
An AIC spokeswoman said the company spearheads sales and marketing efforts and does not own hotels.
Since Great Wolf bought the property, Universal Orlando Resort opened its landmark Volcano Bay water park, with amenities plentiful enough that Universal calls it a third theme park.
The 49.7 acres are part of the Lake Vista Village PD, which had a substantial change approved in August 2016 by the Board of County Commissioners to reduce the maximum yield of hotel/timeshare units from 1,488 to 1,438.
If AIC were to build an all-hotel property without a water park, room capacity could easily increase beyond Great Wolf's intended 800. McEwan said in 2016 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.
The property, accessible from Meadow Creek Drive, 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.
"You could do one, two or three hotels at that site – it's big enough," McEwan said.
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