Owner of Lake Bryan site near Disney puts land up for sale, drops condo-hotel plan

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

The developer of a Planet Hollywood-branded condominium hotel project in Lake Buena Vista is pulling the plug more than three years after announcement, listing the highly-entitled land for sale in Orlando's hottest hotel submarket. 

Located at 13725-13757 S. Apopka Vineland Road, the 14.14-acre property (11.6 acres developable) features ample frontage on Lake Bryan and lies less than a mile from a Walt Disney World entrance. 

Azzurra Development first announced plans in March 2015 for what would later be branded as the ph Premiere Resort-Residences Orlando, after investing $10.05 million to buy the land between 2005 and 2014. 

The 20-story, full-service property was going to debut a new luxury brand for Planet Hollywood International. Unit pre-sales started at $290,000, and the project was initially forecast for completion this year with a single phase of 436 units.

Azzurra has now hired Robert McEwan, first vice president for Land Services/Hotels with CBRE Orlando, to market the land for sale beginning this month.

McEwan and Azzurra CEO Lorenzo Fragala did not respond to requests for comment. 

It was no small feat back in August 2016, when Azzurra earned county approval to merge two Land Use Plans and two Planned Development zonings, then convert existing vehicle trip entitlements on the property into a total of 1,186 entitled hotel rooms. 

Maximizing entitlements delayed the project at that time by roughly a year, but gave the developer flexibility to expand with a second phase and structured parking. 

Azzurra appeared on track, filing its Phase 1 Development Plan in August 2016 for an initial 547 rooms. But it never followed through on getting that DP approved, leaving the process unfinished in May 2017 with county planning staff. 

Attempts to pre-sell condo units through Fortune International Realty didn't work, which cut ties with the project last fall. Deposits have been returned to early investors. 

The land's value now lies in 1,186 room entitlements that may be a challenge for any developer to fully utiltize. Its future land use of Activity Center Mixed Use would allow hotel/resort, condominiums, timeshare, assisted living, commercial, retail and entertainment. 

McEwan started with CBRE as a land broker in 1989 in what was then a newly opened Orlando office, and has established a specialization as the market's premier tourism corridor land broker. 

He has been involved in more than $800 million worth of land sales, equity and debt transactions, including sales of 575 acres Universal Orlando in the past two years, and Disney's fifth and final residential village in Celebration to a national homebuilder last fall. 

Azzurra's Lake Bryan site lies within the Lake Buena Vista submarket, which has long ranked as Orlando's best performing for hotel occupancy rate and average nightly rate.

That submarket boasted an 84.7 percent occupancy rate in 2017, up 5.3 percent on the year prior, and its First Quarter 2018 occupancy averaged 88.3 percent, up 2.4 percent year-on-year, according to STR Global.

Those numbers are at least 4 percentage points higher than the no. 2 submarket (International Drive), and the advantage is similar for average nightly rate. 

The Lake Buena Vista submarket averaged $133.29 per night in 2017, up 4.3 percent from the year prior, per STR data, which does not include Disney properties. And through Q1 of this year that average rate has jumped to $161.73, up 10.1 percent from Q1 2017. 

Orlando set a new record for annual visitors in 2017 with 72 million, up from 68 million the year prior, the Orlando Sentinel reported last week. The region maintained its position as the no. 1 tourism market in the United States, and was the first U.S. city to surpass the 70 million threshhold for tourists, according to Visit Orlando.

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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