UPDATED: DECEMBER 2, 2016 3:10 PM — An affiliate of South Florida developer DCS Real Estate Holdings paid $11.5 million on Nov. 30 for a 20-acre site south of the Orange County Convention Center's West Concourse, where it plans to build a convention-level hotel tower with 1,000 to 1,200 keys.
Located on the northwest corner of Westwood Boulevard, the property lies southeast of the Interstate 4-Beachline Expressway intersection, with quick access to OCCC via a flyover bridge that leads right to the West Concourse.
GrowthSpotter first reported on Sept. 9 that Randall F. Greene and DCS, the developer behind Bella Collina and other high profile Orlando-area projects, had the site under contract, with the goal of maximizing hotel entitlements on the property of 60 units per acres, or 1,200 keys overall, possibly branded with two upscale flags.
Three major hotel companies had offered commitments for flags that would be unique to the tourism corridor, sources privy to the developer's plans said in September. The tower would stand 40 to 50 stories in height, with the potential for a second smaller tower carrying a third flag.
The property was the original site for the 400-foot Great Orlando Wheel project, proposed by Great Orlando Wheel Corporation. That company was managed by Wil Armstrong, who is now a principal in Winter Park-based Starneth, an engineering company specialized in design and construction of giant observation wheels.
A Development Plan for the wheel was approved by Orange County in July 2007, but the project went cold during the recession and was suspended in 2009.
In 2013, developer Great Orlando Wheel Corp. was placed under the control of Armstrong as a receiver to liquidate its assets, primarily the 20-acre site, after a group of minority shareholders prevailed in a Delaware court.
DCS' Greene, who confirmed in September his company had the property under contract, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.
No mortgage related to the sale was recorded along with the deed, and no new development plans have been filed with Orange County as of Friday afternoon.
Greene's RG Developments & Investments is known as a developer that can pay cash for properties and close quickly. It's the co-owner on multiple Florida real estate projects with DCS Real Estate Holdings, which is controlled by Dwight C. Schar, a minority-stake owner of the Washington Redskins and founder of NVR Inc., a large national home builder that builds under the Ryan Homes brand.
More than 185,000 cars pass the site daily with its proximity to I-4, Hooman Hamzehloui, founder of Masters Realty and buyer's agent for DCS, said in September. It's a half mile to SeaWorld and next to a bridge leading to OCCC.
Kathie Canning, executive director of the OCCC, told GrowthSpotter in September that Greene and associates had shared their hotel plan with her, and asked if the location on Westwood Boulevard could be a future stop for the campus circulator bus.
Canning said those 20 acres have always been considered ideal for a convention-level hotel, a key reason OCCC built the Westwood flyover bridge there years ago.
"We'd certainly suggest that site as a stop in the future for any permanent circulator bus system we put in place," she said.
A pilot route for that circulator bus has been active since March, with stops at the Hyatt Regency, Hilton, Rosen Centre and Rosen Plaza hotels north of the Beachline Expressway, along with Pointe Orlando and the OCCC parking lots.