A South Florida-based hotel developer planning a 155-key Cambria Suites in Downtown Orlando earned an approval recommendation Tuesday from Orlando's Municipal Planning Board, due in large part to volunteering to work closely with a neighboring historic church during construction.
Located at 170 E. Washington St. on the southwest corner with Rosalind Avenue, the 0.63-acre vacant parcel has been owned by an LLC affiliate of Choice Hotels International's corporate office since 2010.
A Master Plan for the proposed eight-story hotel, to feature pastel colors and design inspired by Collins Avenue, was filed with the city in late July, and first reported here Aug. 1.
The property is under contract, with closing projected for mid-October, said Dailyn Mizrahi, senior director of Sunny Isles Beach-based real estate investor and developer HB Capital Group. The company is managed by hotelier Steven Hurowitz, who is also managing principal in the project applicant Consolidated Mark Development (CMD).
The group hopes to have full site plan approval from the city by year's end and a general contractor selected, for which a few have been engaged for estimates already, Mizrahi told GrowthSpotter. A third-party hotel management firm will also be hired, she added.
But it was Mizrahi, an alumna of the University of Central Florida, who encouraged her team to jump at the chance when Choice Hotels presented them with the site opportunity last year.
"It was a no-brainer," she said. "This is right next to Lake Eola, the ocean front of Orlando."
The hotel's rooftop balcony amenity for guests will be the first or second for a hotel in Downtown Orlando, depending on when United Capital Corp. builds out and opens its planned rooftop bar on the renovated Marriott hotel near Creative Village.
The new MP filing is meant to update a previously approved Cambria Hotel & Suites Planned Development ordinance that was approved by the city in 2011. Choice pursued the project that year with Concord Eastridge as development partner, but it stalled due to capitalization challenges.
Jason W. Searl, attorney with Gray Robinson representing the new developer, told MPB members his client was comfortable moving forward to City Council with the risk of an unsettled agreement with the city over truck access on E. Washington Street for delivery and trash pickup.
Searl and Mizrahi expect to meet with city planning and transportation staff in the coming week to settle that issue, and update the site plan to reflect where trucks will park temporarily. They would have done so last week if not for Hurricane Irma, Searl noted.
Father John Hamatie, pastor of the St. George Orthodox Church on N. Rosalind Avenue that neighbors the hotel site, asked MPB members to require the developer to protect the church site during construction. The church was built in 1926, and is on the National Register of Historic Places, he said.
The developer proactively agreed to have a third-party inspect the church property pre- and post-construction, will work around the church services schedule for its construction, and will hold quarterly update meetings with Hamatie during the 14- to 16-month construction schedule.
"We're essentially taking the already approved hotel project from (2011) and improving it with a rooftop deck and added parking," Searl said. "What we're bringing to downtown is appropriate, needed, and a best-case scenario of what the church could hope for there."
Father Hamatie concurred, complementing the developer's hotel design and willingness to cooperate thus far.
Because of the property's small size, downtown location and layout, a few modifications are necessary to 2011 plans for the project to comply with current, higher-grade development standards of today's Cambria flag from Choice Hotels.
The hotel flag, room count (155), and layout of a ground-floor vehicular arrival court, lobby check-in lounge, dining space, back of house and parking are all unchanged from the 2011 ordinance. A swimming pool deck would be located on the third floor, overlooking Rosalind Avenue and Lake Eola.
The only different items are a structured parking increase from 55 spaces to 82 all on-site (27 spaces more than the 2011 requirement), an increase to net square footage by roughly 9 percent, an increase to setbacks on Rosalind Avenue to better accommodate city streetscape requirements, and the building's height has been increased from seven to eight stories.
Newport Beach-based Hannouche Architects has contributed project design thus far, and was recommended to HB Capital for the project by Choice Hotels, after designing two new Cambria Suites this year in Sonoma County and Napa Valley, California.