A pair of local entrepreneurs in construction supply have a prominent International Drive site under contract, with plans to build their first hotel with a new Best Western flag and use it to show off the range of their contracting work to future clients.
Located at 6805 Visitors Circle, just off the intersection of I-Drive and Universal Boulevard, the one-acre parcel had been home to iFLY Orlando Indoor Skydiving from 2010 through May 2017, when the company opened a more modern facility 2.4 miles to the south.
Shakeel Syed and Amrin Saba own local business Supreme International USA, a supplier of furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) for commercial construction and renovation, including kitchen and bathroom cabinets, quartz and granite countertop slabs, sinks, flooring and more.
"We've done work with hotel renovations, so what happened here was we were looking for property for ourselves to build a hotel that can show our (Supreme International) customers how we can perform," Syed told GrowthSpotter.
"We found this land in our budget, got it under contract and just submitted the Master Plan. We met yesterday with Best Western, have applied for their new Vīb brand, and their board should decide next month on our franchisee agreement."
This would be Syed and Saba's first commercial property development together, and first hotel investment.
Plans call for 118 rooms across seven stories, with a rooftop swimming pool that will offer a clear view of Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay water park and evening fireworks across Interstate 4 to the north.
Total project cost is currently estimated at $15 million, said Syed, with the developers planning to source a traditional construction loan. The contract is now in due diligence with a six-month window to close, but Syed said he's targeting April to do so.
The hotel would be owner-operated, said Syed, but a local general manager will be hired to lead staff and the day-to-day operations.
The former iFLY Orlando property, owned by an affiliate of parent company SkyVenture, has been marketed for sale since January 2017 by CBRE Orlando's Bobby Palta, most recently at $1.4 million.
Shri Rao, president of LandSmart Consultants and a broker associate with affiliate LandSmart Realty, introduced the prospective buyers to Palta in early 2017.
"A challenge with the site was that for a while people did not know what was going on with Universal's (former Wet 'n Wild park) land across the street. So we had a number of groups interested but there was a specter hanging over it, a little too much unknown," Palta said. "Once Universal's (hotel) plans came out, everything became more certain and this group made the best offer."
Best Western International announced Vīb in 2015 as a new urban boutique flag that would feature modern design, with a focus on convenience, technology and social engagement.
Initial franchisee locations for the flag have been announced over the past two years for U.S. cities that include Staten Island, Memphis, Seattle and Miami, though none have been built and opened yet.
Best Western is promoting the Vīb prototype to hotel developers as cost-effective to build and operate, with a flexible plan for new construction or renovation design.
Hotel amenities include free Wi-Fi throughout, rooms with smart TVs to stream personal content, grab-n-go stations serving premium food and coffee, a lobby bar and fireplace, a "Zen zone," gaming pods and fitness center.
This is the second new hotel development proposed within the last year in the tourism corridor to carry a new Best Western boutique flag that targets millenials.
Brazilian developer QDI paid $2.77 million on Jan. 25 for 3.5 acres east of Vineland Premium Outlets, where it has a Development Plan approved for a 154-key hotel with Best Western's new boutique midscale flag GLō.
CEO Fabio Passos told GrowthSpotter in late January he hopes to break ground on the hotel in the next four months. AIP Design of Winter Park has been hired to help finish final construction plans for county review, a general contractor has yet to be chosen from a short list, and a construction lender has not been secured.