Everest Group CEO Zafir Rashid had one objective when he decided to make his Everest Place mixed-use resort development the gold sponsor of the ICSC@Florida deal-making conference this year: to get the word out that the $1 billion project is moving forward.
“So it’s on people’s radar,” he told GrowthSpotter from the Everest Place booth at the Orange County Convention Center. “The idea was to show people that we’ve got our master plan done and permits in place.”
The developer has a pre-construction meeting this week with Osceola County for phase one of the project, which includes a mix of retail, medical offices and residential along U.S. 192 at the Western Beltway interchange, as well the first Muslim-friendly, conservative lifestyle hotel in North America.
The Phase 1 hotel will be a 163-room Mysk Hotel operated by Shaza Hotels with an adjacent 215-unit condo tower. The Everest-Shaza joint venture will build a second hotel and more branded residences next door in a later phase. This portion of the resort will be an alcohol-free zone, but the rest of Everest Place will cater to all visitors.
Rashid said Phase 1 has about 100,000 square feet of retail uses within the town center and medical campus. The developer wants Everest Place to be more upscale than the casual Margaritaville Resort across the beltway, and it’s working with the same team from LandQwest that completed the lease up the Sunset Walk commercial center at Margaritaville.
“We do have a lot of interest, but it’s not just about finding tenants,” Rashid said. “It’s also trying to decide who fits where and what’s the best fit for us.”
Phase one will have the first of two mixed-use residential buildings, with structured parking and 350 apartments over ground-floor retail.
The developer has selected a Spanish Mediterannean architectural style consistent throughout the resort, with one exception - the new Nickelodeon Resort and residences in Phase 2. “It’s more modern,” Rashid said. The Nickelodeon resort will have 200 hotel rooms, 209 condo-hotel units and the company’s signature pineapple feature marking the entrance. Rashid said Everest has had discussions with several brokerages to manage the condo sales and plans to select one firm to lead the residential sales and leasing.
The Nickelodeon hotel will feature brightly-colored rooms themed with popular characters like Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer. Other amenities will include a kids’ club, a variety of restaurants, cafes and shops, separate pools for the hotel and residences — including an adult pool with a swim-up bar, and plenty of green slime. It will rise just north of the Mysk condo tower and will be accessed from the south until Everest completes the spine road connecting the northern and southern sections of the project.
The developer has made a significant change to the master plan since it was approved. They took out the Crystal Lagoon and decided to replace it with a water park that will be accessible to residents of the condos and apartments, as well as all of the resort guests. The park will have an oversized pool, water slides and a flow-rider among its attractions. Rashid said guests will pay for the park access through their resort fees, and residents can purchase memberships.
“We wanted something a little more active,” LandQwest’s Tom Heer said. “I like this better. I think it’s a better use of the site.”
They’re not worried about it competing with Margaritaville’s Island H2O water park because the one at Everest Place will be designed primarily for resort guests and residents — not outside visitors.
European boutique hotelier Kempinski would operate the 5-star conference center hotel, which would be the company’s first U.S. location in its more than century-long history. The Preliminary Subdivision Plan submitted last October allows for up to 300 rooms with 20,000 square feet of conference and event space, plus 7,500 square feet of retail.