Hotels & Hospitality Development News in Central Florida

Local hotelier begins planning I-Drive hotel expansion that will fit artisanal retailers

The most recently proposed retail hub in Orange County will serve as part of an expansion effort of the Heart of I-Drive boutique hotel on 7200 International Drive.

Developer Micah Bass told GrowthSpotter he believes it is long overdue to stick “a more dynamic food spot” in front of the 120-room hotel.


“It’s about time we do something,” Bass said. Already, a handful of food trucks operate at the spot nightly, he adds.

The design is similar to Boxi Park in Lake Nona, where two-story shipping containers host an array of food trucks, restaurants, live entertainment and bars.


The developer said he has been meeting with Orange County officials for two years with the intention to open a market at the property.

He has since filed plans to expand his hotel by about 4,400 square feet. The additional commercial space will have to adhere to the I-Drive District Overlay standards, which were adopted in 2017 as a means to spur more urbanized and pedestrian-friendly developments.

Conceptual elevations recently filed in Orange County show the commercial project can rise as tall as three stories, but Bass said there’s potential to build taller.

The idea is for the development to serve as a viewing spot for nearby attractions, including Disney fireworks, he said.

“We know 50 percent of our guests do not rent cars. They walk endlessly up and down I-Drive to Icon Park," Bass said. "This is going to be an option for them to grab a coconut or fresh snack.”

Bass renovated and reopened the hotel last year after rebranding it as the Heart of I-Drive boutique hotel.

In 2017, some damaged caused by Hurricane Irma prompted the hotel to temporarily close. Bass purchased the property, which had been foreclosed on, in 2011 for $3.2 million. It had previously traded in 2007 for $4.68 million.

He said the Heart of I-Drive Market is being planned to feature up to 25 different spaces for vendors, as well as a two-story market that can fit multiple food merchants.


Boca Raton-based architect Stephen H. Little is designing the concept.

Just across from the Heart of I-Drive hotel, Los Angeles-based pot provider, MedMen Enterprises, is planning to open a cannabis dispensary at 6600 International Drive.

A number of entertainment complexes like Topgolf and Andretti Karting have also recently opened not far away.

Nearby, Wallack Holdings LLC is planning a $500 million Skyplex entertainment complex, that’s set to feature the world’s tallest rollercoaster.

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.