Outlined in red is the 4.69-acre property home to the Clarion Inn on Caravan Court, located south of Major Boulevard and east of Universal Orlando. The blue outline is a 1-acre parcel acquired by FDOT from the hotel owner in 2014.
Outlined in red is the 4.69-acre property home to the Clarion Inn on Caravan Court, located south of Major Boulevard and east of Universal Orlando. The blue outline is a 1-acre parcel acquired by FDOT from the hotel owner in 2014. (Orange County Property Appraiser / staff edit)

The owner of a Clarion Inn & Suites east of Universal Orlando is seeking a general contractor within the next 30 days to finish a property makeover that begin in 2014, but has been stalled for a year due to damage caused by an FDOT-hired contractor for the I-4 Ultimate expansion.

Located at 5827 Caravan Court, east of the intersection of S. Kirkman Road and Major Boulevard, the hotel was formerly known as Days Inn Orlando Maingate to Universal, before a Clarion rebranding in May 2015.

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Property renovations began in August 2014 and were initiated by the privately hired Vision Construction (now defunct), originally projected as a $6 million investment.

The work involved room renovation and brand conversion services, with the complete restructuring of two buildings on the property's rear facing I-4.

Those two buildings were supposed to be cut by an FDOT contractor with a third fully demolished, part of the state's taking of 1.03 acres on the property's southeast end for I-4 expansion. The hotel's key count would be reduced from 262 to 184.

Owner Caravan Hotel Properties was compensated $11.5 million from FDOT for the 1.03 acres, consisting of a $7.1 million initial purchase in July 2014, and another $4.4 million ordered to be paid in January 2015 by Orange County's Ninth Circuit Court.

FDOT's contractor made mistakes on the demolition work, including damage to a building not meant for tear-down, improper permits pulled, damage to the hotel's electrical, plumbing and data lines, and improper shoring of newly poured cement, among other issues.

The City of Orlando issued a stop-work order on the property, and the hotel owner had to hire new architects to redesign renovation plans, and various private contractors to clean up the damage.

A judge in Orange County's Ninth Circuit Court ordered a partial final judgment in August, requiring FDOT to reimburse Caravan Hotel Properties more than $3.22 million for its construction and remediation costs on two of its buildings.

The hotel owner also has the right to assert business damages and further legal costs against FDOT through June 2017, based on lost profits in the post-construction period during which its occupancy and average daily rates prove to be below those of other Clarion hotels in the market.

Caravan Hotel Properties most recently applied for new permits with the city in late November for site improvements, which include changes to parking, signage, landscaping and a reduction in building square footage.

Eric Frommer, attorney for the hotel owner, declined comment on the damage negotiations with FDOT, but said his client is excited to hire a GC by mid-January to finish room renovations.

About 40 rooms on the property's rear are left to be renovated, or roughly $1.2 million of the original $6 million projected investment.

RCE Consultants of Altamonte Springs is civil engineer on the newly filed plans, and Scott + Cormia is the project's architect.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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