Tennessee developer explores new hotel for downtown Orlando Travelodge site

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

A Tennessee-based developer has downtown Orlando's oldest hotel property under contract, and is exploring rezoning and redevelopment options for a new, larger hotel. 

Located at 409 N. Magnolia Ave. on the corner with E. Livingston Street and directly east of the Orange County Courthouse, the 1.08-acre parcel is anchored by the 75-room Travelodge Orlando Downtown, along with Chef Jeremiah's City Diner. Both buildings date to 1958. 

Developer 3H Group brought the property under contract last week, CEO Hiren Desai told GrowthSpotter. Director of Development Nick Desai and a civil engineer with Jordan Companies have talked with city planning staff on options of redeveloping the site with a larger hotel. 

Desai declined further comment on Monday regarding conceptual plans for the property, or a timeline for closing. 

The land is owned by three family trusts in a partnership that dates back to the early 1950s. Those trusts are now managed by members of the Ward and Rex families, and four heirs of the William H. Jayne Trust. 

A representative for the trust owners also declined to comment on Monday.

It is currently zoned O-3/T, but will likely need to be rezoned to AC-3 or similar Downtown Activity Center zoning to support redevelopment for a new hotel, which would be 3H Group's next step with the city.

If seen through to closing, this would be 3H Group's second hotel acquisition or development in the Orlando market.

Its market entry is a planned 148-key TownePlace Suites on 2.31 acres under contract from North American Properties, within the mixed-use "Grand National" project on the north end of International Drive.

Plans for that hotel were filed in late October with the city, and Desai said at the time he anticipated a late First Quarter 2018 groundbreaking. A stormwater permit was applied for on Feb. 13, and North American Properties' vice president Craig Kopko said 3H's closing on the land should occur in the first semester. 

3H Group owns and operates 20 hotels in six states, according to its website portfolio. Five are in Florida, with two in Altamonte Springs. The company's development niche is focused on select- and limited-service hotels, working primarily with Marriott and IHG flags. 

"I think that is a terrific hotel site, and am glad someone is considering redeveloping it, as it will benefit the downtown market," said Paul Sexton, vice president of HREC Investment Advisors, a national brokerage offering consulting, development and asset management services to the hotel industry.

"When you have a lower-rated property like the Travelodge it can sometimes bring the ADRs down from surrounding properties," he continued. "When you replace that with a higher-rated property it is good for (other investors in the submarket)." 

While the Travelodge's location and across-the-board growth in real estate downtown indicate market support for redevelopment, recent validation of home-sharing services may impact new hotel investment, said Trevor Hall Jr., land specialist with Colliers International in Orlando.

Orlando's City Council approved an ordinance on Monday to allow bed and breakfast-style rentals in most residential areas for less than 30 days, as long as the homeowner is living there. 

"Airbnb is really a threat to those in the travel accommodations business," he said. "A slice of the people staying in downtown want something other than the hotel experience. I see that segment of development being a bit vulnerable." 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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