UPDATED: APRIL 8, 2016 4:47 PM — Island Hospitality Partners, an affiliate of Puerto Rican developers PRISA Group, has changed its plans for a dual-brand Marriott hotel behind Mall at Millenia, swapping out the AC Hotels flag that would have been Orlando's first, and replacing it with Springhill Suites.
The project is still in its design and pre-permit application phase, PRISA's investment capital is secure, and groundbreaking should occur this summer, a source with direct knowledge of the project told GrowthSpotter Friday on condition of anonymity, due to the developer's policy of not commenting on projects before permit approval.
Located at 5403 Millenia Lakes Blvd, the four-acre property was bought by an LLC affiliate of PRISA for $4 million on Dec. 10.
The proposed six-story, 254-key hotel drew local attention last June, when plans were filed with the City of Orlando for a dual-brand hotel with the city's first AC Hotels flag, to be paired with Residence Inn.
The flag change from AC Hotels to Springhill Suites was first demonstrated on April 7, on construction plans filed with the South Florida Water Management District by Kimley-Horn, civil engineer on the project. That application to construct a water management system is still under review by SFWMD.
Flag commitments for a hotel project are often fluid prior to construction. Market research typically points AC Hotels as more of an urban and business traveler-favored flag, whereas Springhill Suites is a more logical fit for Orlando's tourism corridor.
"My thought is it's a return on cost that is driving this," said Michael Weinberg, director of HFF in Orlando. "It's much less expensive to build a Springhill Suites than an AC, and the projected delta of ADR (Average Daily Rate) between the two may be too narrow to justify building the AC."
Orlando's City Council approved rezoning for the hotel project's land in September 2015. On Feb. 29, the applicant filed a determination request for minor modifications to the approved hotel project.
PRISA's affiliate owner of the land filed a management agreement with Marriott Hotel Services Inc. on March 9 in Orange County, a document signed Dec. 30. At the time of signing, AC Hotels was still listed as the primary flag for the project.
Lead contact for Island Hospitality Partners on the project is Jaime Morgan Stubbe, a former executive director of the Puerto Rico Maritime Authority who is now in real estate development, and a lead executive for Palmas del Mar, a residential and tourist complex in Humacao, Puerto Rico.
Attempts to contact Island Hospitality and PRISA Group were not immediately successful on Friday.
The undeveloped property is bordered by an existing office buildings Millenia Lakes II & III to the north, multi-family development Aqua at Millenia to the south, Millenia Lakes Boulevard to the west and Shingle Creek to the east.