Greenville, S.C.-based JHM Hotels is talking with franchisors Marriott and Hilton for flags it could apply to two new hotel properties in the heart of International Drive, to be built on undeveloped land it owns directly north of Pointe Orlando, a lead executive with the company told GrowthSpotter.
The two contiguous properties, which total 14.45 acres, feature direct access to International Drive, and Universal Boulevard via Plaza Luz Row. The land was acquired in January and October 2006 for a combined $16.65 million from Orlando Plaza Partners, which today is managed by Herb Von Kluge and Brooksville Development Corp.
"When we bought this land we wanted to develop it then, but the market crashed in 2008 so we just held on until it recovered sufficiently," said M.P. Rama, COO with JHM. "We now see the positive growth for the industry and the market demand for new properties."
The Greater Orlando market boasted 68 individual hotel transactions in 2015, with single asset sales totaling $595 million in value -- more than the previous two years combined. Despite economy and debt market questions, Orlando can draw more hotel investment than ever, said Paul Sexton of HREC Investment Advisors.
JHM favors upper midscale and upscale select-service flags for the two I-Drive parcels, which each total just over seven acres, and would hold hotels with between 150 and 200 keys.
"We're now working on which parcel we want to develop first, and what franchise to put there," Rama said. "It's an exploration with our preferred partners Marriott and Hilton, but we're not rushing into it. We could reach a decision this year."
Rama said the I-Drive market demand calls for more select-service hotel development, with full service properties and the large event space investment they demand already well established near the Orange County Convention Center.
The new owner-operator will put a few million dollars into renovations between now and December, and should be the first hotel in the U.S. to carry Marriott's newly-acquired Delta Hotels and Resorts brand.
At first glance, the brands from Hilton and Marriott within that select-service window are all well established with multiple franchisees on International Drive or Universal Boulevard, except for Hilton's new TRU and Canopy flags.
JHM owns and operates 12 hotels in the Greater Orlando market, two of which are in the tourism corridor, with properties in seven states across the south and midwest U.S.