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Hotels & Hospitality Development News in Central Florida

Plans to bring lodging back to the historic Mayfair Hotel in Sanford are no longer intact after sale of property

When a developer in 2017 filed plans with Sanford to renovate the historic Mayfair Inn on Lake Monroe back into a four-diamond hotel, it was lauded by a city planner as one of the most exciting projects the city has ever seen.

Key Performance Hospitality Management anticipated spending $30 million to restore and enlarge the 94-year-old building into a 130-room, boutique hotel, unlike anything else in Central Florida.

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The project never happened though. On April 18, the three-story, 74,913-square-foot former hotel — which has for decades been used as office space — sold to a new buyer.

An entity titled 1000 East First Estates LLC acquired the 6.5-acre lakefront property for $6 million, according to Seminole County deed records. That entity is managed by Marian (Mark) Spisak. He’s the executive director of the World Olivet Assembly, a New York-based evangelical nonprofit.

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The organization, according to its website, is a global denomination of evangelical churches and para-churches. The assembly first began in 2000 as a loose association of world evangelical bodies. The network’s development culminated in the inauguration of the World Olivet Assembly in 2007, the website says.

The organization plans to use the former hotel site as its southern headquarters, according to a news release provided to GrowthSpotter.

“It is truly joyful for us to acquire this wonderful property with rich history and great location in larger downtown Sanford,” Spisak said in a statement. “WOA plans to use the former Mayfair Inn as its southern headquarters for the denomination allowing our administration to cover more areas especially with the focus on overseas pioneering and mission research to prepare our missionaries to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. With a great location close to the international airport and the size of slightly less than 6 acres, this property fits well to what we have been looking for.”

Leaders in the denomination are in the midst of discussions with consultants and the city about more detailed building plans, which are yet to be finalized, according to the news release.

City records indicate that the new owner is working to re-establish the land use designation that was in place before the developers of the now-defunct hotel renovation project were granted a variance.

Between 1977 and 2017, the former hotel site served as the international headquarters of New Tribes Mission, a non-denominational missionary organization based in Sanford that now goes by the name Ethnos, 360.

During those years, the property was assigned the zoning classification of RMOI, meaning it could be used for multifamily residential, office or institutional space — not lodging.

After KPHM bought the former hotel for $3.5 million in 2017, the development team requested that the zoning and planning commission approve a conditional use to allow for a hotel.

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The city approved that variance on April 3, 2017. And while KPHM’s president Troy Antonik told GrowthSpotter in 2019 that work was set to begin soon, it never did.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought many hotel construction efforts to a screeching halt across the country, according to CoStar. In all, 37,000 hotel rooms that were supposed to open in 2019 had their open dates pushed to 2020 or beyond. The number of rooms with a 2020 open date that did not open was around 51,000 rooms, the company found.

It’s unclear if the pandemic had any impact on KPHM abandoning plans for the hotel and selling the property. Antonik did not return phone calls or emails seeking comment.

Philipp Kirschbaum, an attorney with New York City-based law firm Anderson & Associates, said in an email to Spisak, the new land owner, that the approved variance should be discarded.

In the letter, which is included in development materials on the city’s website, Kirschbaum refers to a section of Sanford’s municipal code that reads: “A development order shall become null and void one year from the effective date unless all or specified portions of the development as defined in the order are commenced.”

Kirschbaum wrote, “It is our understanding that the sellers of the Mayfair Inn have not taken any steps to utilize Mayfair Inn in accordance with the variance granted in 2017. As a result of this stagnation, any effect of the variance on the Mayfair Inn property should be nullified at this point. Consequently, the permitted uses of the Mayfair Inn property should be reverted solely to its original zoning designation of RMOI.”

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Construction on the Mediterranean-style hotel, designed by Sanford architect Elton J. Moughton started in 1916. It opened in 1925 as the Hotel Forrest Lake, named for a long-time Sanford mayor and state representative

The city took the hotel over after Lake went to prison for fraudulent handling of city finances and at the bank he founded. Local flower grower W.E. Kirchhoff Jr. leased the property and changed the name to the Mayfair Inn.

In 1947, Kirchhoff sold the hotel to the owner of the New York Giants baseball club who renamed it the Mayfair Inn. The building stopped operating as a hotel in 1963 when the Bernarr Macfadden Foundation opened the Sanford Naval Academy School for Boys there, Ping reported. The school closed in 1976 and New Tribes Mission moved in.

For years, downtown Sanford has been without a hotel. The last hotel here was demolished a couple of years ago to make way for a new assisted living facility on Marina Island, which opened in early 2020.

But a new hotel is on the way.

Sanford-based Suncor Properties, Inc has received approval for a four-story, 60-room boutique hotel at the northeast corner of W. First Street and Oak Avenue, just west of the former Mayfair Inn.

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Editor’s note: The story has been updated to include additional details about the owner’s intent for the property.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at (407)-800-1161 or dwyatt@GrowthSpotter.com, or tweet me at @DustinWyattGS. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


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