UPDATED: February 23, 2016 11:55 AM — Azzurra Development wants to boost the size and scope of its condominium project ph Premiere Hotel & Spa Orlando, seeking Orange County approval to increase room entitlements from the 436 announced last March to up to 986 through two phases, citing higher stakes to compete in Orlando's luxury market, a lead executive with the company told GrowthSpotter on Friday.
"There is demand for a higher quality hotel product in the marketplace, and in order to compete in that four- or five-star market you have to have a much greater amenity package than we had before. To have that greater amenity package you have to have more hotel rooms," said Phillip Hollis, senior vice president of entitlements and government affairs for Azzurra.
The developer recently filed a Land Use Plan Amendment now under review by Orange County planning staff, in which it aims to merge two LUPs and two PDs for the two contiguous parcels it owns, totaling 14.14 acres.
Located at 13757 S. Apopka Vineland Road with frontage on Lake Bryan, the project combines a 9.85-acre lot purchased in 2005 ($7.95 million) with a 4.32-acre Shell Gas Plaza bought by an Azzurra affiliate in 2014 ($2.1 million).
In combining those LUPs, Azzurra is asking to increase the maximum building height to 400 feet above sea level, a 100-foot increase from the previous PD. The property sits at an elevation of 105 feet, so true building height will be 295 feet.
Merging the LUPs will also allow Azzurra to combine existing entitlements of 400 rooms and 200 rooms from each PD, and convert the existing vehicle trip entitlements for the Shell station property into more room entitlements, totaling an estimated 986. The fuel station will be demolished for the development.
"We were increasing significantly the size of the site when we bought the Shell station, so when we add its PD to the Lake Bryan Condos PD (which zones the primary 9.85-acre parcel) we need a taller project to compete with other four- and five-star properties," Hollis said.
The first phase of the project will be a hotel of roughly 500 rooms with on-grade parking, while a second phase would require building a parking garage and additional rooms, up to that 986 maximum, Hollis said.
Asking for as many units as possible at the LUP phase is common for hotel development, in order to leave options open for expansion.
"If Phase 2 will ever be built we don't know, but if and when the first phase is successful we're able to have the entitlements so we can expand and create the aggregate mass we need, which will require the parking garage," Hollis said.
The LUP combination would add about 1.14 acres of waterfront amenity, which will help Azzurra mitigate the wetland disruption that will occur with development, and provide enough room for amenities like sand volleyball and lake water sports.
Of the existing 14.14 acres, 8.14 acres are currently usable and 6.0 acres are wetland, with plans calling to increase usable to 9.46 acres and reduce wetlands to 4.86 acres. Hollis said the company will minimize as much as possible its wetland impact.
Once Azzurra gets its LUPs combined into one, the project can progress to the design and submission of a Development Plan, with layout of the hotel, parking and amenities. That process could be complete and submitted to the county within this year, Hollis said.
The property will feature amenities like a water sports and activity center, sandy beach pool deck with cabanas, panoramic rooftop pool with bar and restaurant, full-service spa and concierge, childcare specialists to accompany families to theme parks, complimentary airport pickup and drop-off, and more.
The company plans to sell up to 500 studio, one- and two-bedroom suites in its Phase 1 development.