Hotels & Hospitality Development News in Central Florida

Land west of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is under contract and being prepped for resort-style development

An aerial view of the planned short-term rental and hotel development being planned next to the Grove Resort and Water Park.

A Chicago-area company led by real estate developer and advisor Kimm Dodaro is under contract to purchase land west of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

Dodaro leads a company called the Walter Joseph Group, which specializes in helping charities accept gifts of real estate. The firm also offers private real estate planning and land development consulting.


According to a Land Use Plan application, Dodaro is looking to develop up to 260 short-term rental units, plus a nine-story hotel with a maximum of 240 suites, through a company she manages called Walter Blake Inc.

The entity is carving out about 119 acres from Columnar Investments’ roughly 250-acre property assemblage north of U.S. 192 and west of Avalon Road.


Columnar, a major property owner and developer in Horizon West, is behind the Ovation community in Village I, which consists of eight neighborhoods of single-family homes, townhomes, offices and three schools.

Sean Froelich, Columnar’s Florida division partner, told GrowthSpotter the land under contract allows for a number of uses including timeshare units and short-term rentals due to its growth center land use zoning.

He said RJ Whidden and Associates, Inc. is working with Dodaro to incorporate some surrounding smaller parcels into her proposed planned development called Grand Luxx.

Froelich told GrowthSpotter the developer wants to bring a resort-style community to the area, but plans are still very preliminary at this time.

The property sits a little less than five miles from Walt Disney World’s western gate. It lies east of the Orange/Lake County border and west of the Grove Resort and Water Park, owned by Fort Lauderdale-based BTI Partners.

Over the last couple of years, BTI has invested millions in renovating and restoring the resort. Since taking control of the property, the developer has added a large arcade and seven-acre water park that includes two FlowRider surf machines, water slides, a kids’ water activity area and lazy river.

Last year, GrowthSpotter reported of its plans to bring an additional 160 condo-hotel units on five acres of land just north of its resort, along Grove Blossom Way. The addition pushes the total unit count of Grove Resort & Water Park to 1,038.

The area is benefiting off the immense development happening in Horizon West and the expansion of the Western Way, which runs through Disney’s 450-acre Flamingo Crossings master-planned community.


The road is being constructed as a new four-lane roadway that will extend roughly 1.6 miles west to Avalon Road.

Multifamily developer Alliance Residential Company is also planning a 300-unit garden-style apartment community nearby, on the southeast corner of Avalon Road and Hartzog Road.

Directly south, about 20 acres of vacant land was amended to allow for up to 300 short-term rental units. BTI is partnering with Westport Capital Partners on the project.

In a previous interview with GrowthSpotter, BTI chief operating officer, Kevin Mays, said the southern parcel will feature mid-rise condominium-style suites.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at or (407) 420-5427, or tweet me at @amanda_rabines. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.