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Epelboim seeks GC & lender in coming months for $40M Tru hotel project

Epelboim seeks GC & lender in coming months for $40M Tru hotel project
This rendering shows the rear of the proposed Tru Hotel, with a swimming pool area. (DLW Architects)

Miami-based Epelboim Development Group should choose a general contractor in the coming month and seek a construction loan of up to $16.4 million by year's end, as its prepares in earnest to finance a new 259-key Tru by Hilton on Westwood Boulevard in Orlando's tourism corridor, a principal with the company told GrowthSpotter.

Proposed for 6461 Westwood Blvd., the company paid $5.5 million on Thursday for the 4.46-acre site, which has been led through Development Plan review and approval since February by Skorman Development and Construction, part of an 11-acre acquisition Skorman closed on Thursday. Skorman will hold and develop the balance of land in the future.

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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.

"The main draw was the site's proximity to the Orange County Convention Center, along with great visibility from the expressway and proximity to International Drive," Noel Epelboim said on Friday. "We look forward to breaking ground some time in mid-First Quarter 2018."

Epelboim has developed residential and commercial projects in Venezuela, Costa Rica and South Florida for more than 30 years, and recruits EB-5 immigrant visa investors to help finance many of its projects in the past five years.

This would be Epelboim's second hotel project, following its first a 190-key EVEN Hotel near Miami International Airport that's now under construction and near 50 percent completion.

A few key steps lie ahead for Epelboim's Orlando hotel to take off, following Thursday's land buy.

With total project cost now estimated at $40 million, the developer will begin raising EB-5 financing from foreign investors to fund an estimated $11 million, Epelboim said. Florida First Regional Center is coordinating the campaign.

The company works through auditing firm NES Financial in California to offer prospective EB-5 investors independent analysis of Epelboim's projects, and their compliance with USCIS regulations.

Another $16.4 million will be sought from a traditional construction loan, which Epelboim is beginning to search for now and plans to close on by year's end, he added. The remaining balance will be equity from the firm and investment partners.

Kellogg & Kimsey of Sarasota has served as pre-construction general contractor on the project thus far. Epelboim said a GC for vertical construction should be chosen in the next 30 days.

The hotel's DP was approved on consent agenda by the Development Review Committee on July 26. Construction plans should be ready and submitted to the county by early fourth quarter.

Coral Gables-based Trust Hospitality will likely be the property manager, after being signed to manage Epelboim's first hotel in Miami.

Epelboim is optimistic his company will pursue more development projects in the Greater Orlando market, and expects to renew a site selection effort as soon as First Quarter 2018, he said.

"Affordable midscale" brand Tru by Hilton was launched in early 2016 by Hilton and currently has more than 200 signed franchise agreements in North America, and 420 deals in various stages of development, per the company's website. This would be the flag's first location in Greater Orlando, while a second was floated this past January for a Sanford project.

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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