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A Preliminary Subdivision Plan the developer wants to subdivide a 7.21-acre plot of land into four commercial lots for three new hotels and a parking garage that can accommodate more than 600 spaces.
A Preliminary Subdivision Plan the developer wants to subdivide a 7.21-acre plot of land into four commercial lots for three new hotels and a parking garage that can accommodate more than 600 spaces. (Orange County Property Appraiser/Orange County/GrowthSpotter)

It has been more than a decade since South Carolina-based developer Auro Hotels bought about seven acres of vacant land in the I-Drive tourism corridor. For years the developer sat on plans — until recently.

According to a Preliminary Subdivision Plan filed in Orange County on Thursday, an entity tied to the developer is seeking allowances to subdivide the 7.21-acre plot of land into four commercial lots with plans in place for three new hotels and a parking garage that can accommodate more than 600 spaces.

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The site sits on the northwest corner of Pointe Plaza Avenue and Universal Boulevard. A conceptual site plan shows Lot 2 featuring a 450-room multi-branded hotel; Lot 3 featuring a 155-room hotel; and Lot 4 featuring a 152-room hotel. American Civil Engineering Co. is the civil engineer. The conceptual plan identifies Marriott and Hilton as potential flags, with a mix of select-service and extended-stay brands.

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.

A conceptual site plan shows Lot 1 featuring a 638-space parking garage; Lot 2 featuring a 450-room hotel; Lot 3 featuring a 155-room hotel; and Lot 4 featuring a 152-room hotel.
A conceptual site plan shows Lot 1 featuring a 638-space parking garage; Lot 2 featuring a 450-room hotel; Lot 3 featuring a 155-room hotel; and Lot 4 featuring a 152-room hotel. (Orange County)

In 2006, it paid about $8.6 million for the property through entity Jhm Enterprises Inc. 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 Ferris wheel, Icon Orlando 360, had yet to be developed.

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 recent MegaCon Orlando convention.

The proposed subdivision 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.

Last year, GrowthSpotter reported Auro Hotels was pursuing a “glamping” project on Lake Bryan Beach Boulevard directly east of Diamond Resorts’ Grand Beach timeshare property. But those plans seem to have been dropped, and the site remains vacant.

A representative from Auro Hotels was not immediately available to comment.

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

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