UPDATED: DECEMBER 14, 2017 9:43 AM — A mystery surrounding the location of the first Niido powered by Airbnb apartments in Kissimmee has been solved, and reveals a deliberate misdirection campaign by the developer over the past three months.
DeBartolo President Edward Kobel told GrowthSpotter that Niido would relaunch the property under its own brand next year.
"This is it," he said Wednesday. "We've got Airbnb in the building now."
Niido executives declined to comment on the acquisition.
The company told local and national media in October it was developing a new apartment complex "near Margaritaville Resort" that was under construction, but would not share the address.
In an interview earlier this month, Chief Marketing Officer Cindy Diffenderfer reiterated those talking points to GrowthSpotter, and claimed the project was set to open in March 2018, despite no new construction permits for multifamily existing in that part of Osceola County.
Diffenderfer said the company was keeping the location secret to protect trade secrets regarding design and construction techniques being used at the complex.
"We're doing a lot of things that are special and unique," she said. "We don't want people to go look at the property or take pictures while it's under construction."
But Domain has been built and open to renters since late October. It was designed and priced to appeal to service workers, like those who will work next door at Margaritaville.
"We've had phenomenal success," Kobel said. "We built it as a luxury-B project. It's not an A product, so it's at a price point people can afford. People love the product, they love the floor plans. We designed it to have a really fun, Florida feel."
The amenities include a swimming pool with cabanas, barbecue areas, sand volleyball, firepit, gym, Pilates studio, café and a game room. There's also a dog park, playground and fleet of community bikes. Diffenderfer said Niido may add a community garden and fruit tree orchard.
Kobel said the buyer group approached DeBartolo fairly early in the construction process.
"We started it and they came to us and said 'We really want to own this building,'" he said. "We're blown away by the sale price."
DeBartolo, which acts as its own general contractor, added features to the apartments -- such as keyless entry -- to meet Niido specifications. Tenants will be able to rent their entire units, a bedroom, or even a couch on Airbnb for up to 180 days per year.
"For our tenants, we have partitions in the units that are lockable," said Diffenderfer, of Niido's future properties. "Even in the kitchen, we'll have a cabinet that's lockable. We provide our tenants with a hosting kit, welcome them to Niido. We also have toiletries, linens, towels – we're giving them two sets of everything."
She said a limited number of units will be leased as fully-furnished units. "They're high design for more of a luxury experience."
Each resident will set their own rates and calendar. Airbnb suggests a $150 nightly rate for a one-bedroom unit, she said.
After the relaunch, Niido will staff the complex with offerings to attract tourists and business travelers and entertain residents.
"We're putting together event programming – wine tasting, craft beer, art installations, networking, keynote speakers, etc." Diffenderfer said.
Domain was the first joint venture between DeBartolo and Margaritaville Resort's developer Encore.
The two developers will break ground early next year on a 300-unit Class A community in Reunion. That complex will include a mix of townhomes and three-story garden units with elevators.
At this time, they have no plans to sell it to Newgard.