South Carolina-based developer Auro Hotels just submitted a development plan for a project involving building three new hotels close to where Universal’s new theme park resort called Epic Universe.
According to a Development Plan filed in Orange County this week, an entity tied to the developer wants to bring a mix of commercial, hotel and retail uses on 7.2 acres of land on the northwest corner of Pointe Plaza Avenue and Universal Boulevard.
A conceptual site plan shows a 450-room tri-branded Marriott hotel, a 155-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel and a 152-room Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel. A parking garage that can accommodate more than 630 spaces is also depicted in plans.
The unit count in the development area summary shows the developer can fit up to 779 rooms under proposed plans, but the conceptual layout shows the unit count will add up to 758 rooms.
The developer submitted a Preliminary Subdivision Plan in May seeking allowances to subdivide the land into four commercial lots. The most recently filed DP covers the construction on Lot 2 (the tri-branded Marriott hotel) and Lot 4 (the Home2 Suites by Hilton hotel).
Revisions to its PSP are under review and will likely run simultaneously with the most recently filed DP.
The land has remained vacant for decades.
Jhm Enterprises Inc., an entity linked to Auro Hotels, paid about $8.6 million for the property in 2006. At the time, Universal Boulevard was recently extended to the Beachline Expressway, and attractions that have come to define the region like Unicorp’s glowing 400-foot wheel, Icon Orlando 360, had yet to be developed.
Today, the area is known for its high visitor volume, due in part to the Orange County Convention Center, which hosts an array of trade shows and expos like the MegaCon Orlando convention.
The property sits behind the Hampton Inn Orlando International Drive/Convention Center hotel, between the much-frequented I-Drive and Universal Boulevard thoroughfares, just south of Austrian Row where attractions like Topgolf and Andretti Karting have recently opened.
About a year ago, Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment Inc. paid $7.6 million for more than 17 acres off of Universal Boulevard, along with rights for retail development that would allow for a large museum.
Auro Hotels is a successor to JHM Hotels, which members of the Rama family began in 1973 with a single motel in Pomona, California. Today, the company owns and operates 37 hotels across 6,500 guestrooms, located in the United States and India.
Last year, the company pursued developing a “glamping” project on Lake Bryan Beach Boulevard directly east of Diamond Resorts’ Grand Beach timeshare property, but later dropped those plans.
Had it gone forward, the development would have been Orlando’s first luxury “glamping” resort in the vicinity of Walt Disney World.
Currently, Auro Hotels is in the midst of developing a 162-room hotel on land near the Disney attractions.