Hotels & Hospitality Development News in Central Florida

Plan approved for 365-unit Empire Hotel on Universal Blvd.

A rendering of the proposed Empire Hotel on Universal Boulevard, to be located just north of the T-intersection with Convention Way, north of the Orange County Convention Center's North Concourse.

New York-based real estate developer and manager Empire Equities can pursue site construction and building plans in the coming months for its proposed 365-key Empire Hotel on Universal Boulevard, after receiving approval Wednesday of its Development Plan (DP) from Orange County's Development Review Committee.

The applicant is currently in the platting review process with Orange County, which will involve a lot split to provide a 5.34-acre tract for the hotel from a 38.82-acre parcel owned by Orlando Equity Partners (OEP), an affiliate of Stan Thomas' Southwood Development Company in Atlanta.

A 5.34-acre tract will be allocated within this 38.82-acre parcel for the Empire Hotel development.

The 360-foot, 23-story Empire Hotel will be located north of the Orange County Convention Center's North Concourse, and directly west of the Westin Hotel on Universal Boulevard. Current plans with county staff project 365 units, a three-level garage with 444 spaces, a swimming pool on the 11th floor, and two garden areas.

Principals at Empire Equities did not return calls requesting comment on Wednesday. HKS Architects (architect) and Kimley-Horn & Associates (civil engineer) have been contracted thus far for the project.


This parcel neighbors to the southeast another OEP-owned parcel that has been subdivided and prepped for Topgolf and Andretti Indoor Karting & Games to develop two attractions on roughly 20 acres, as GrowthSpotter reported in September.

Both of those OEP parcels are still under the ownership of Stan Thomas' company and not part of the 474-acre, 19-parcel package of former Thomas properties being taken over by Colony Capital for eventual resale.

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