Admitting it may not be the popular choice, Osceola County’s selection committee is recommending the county partner with a Miramar-based developer over one with local ties to build and operate four new hotels at Osceola Heritage Park and NeoCity.
The committee gave the slight edge to the team led by Riviera Point Development Group, which has proposed duplicating the Tryp by Wyndham/La Quinta del Sol hotel duo it’s currently building on International Drive at OHP. The Orlando project is valued at $32 million, but it has just 200 combined rooms. The OHP hotels would each have 150 rooms and a combined value of $50 million.
Riviera Point also proposed building a $60 million Radisson Blu conference center hotel with 250 rooms at OHP and a 200-room boutique hotel in NeoCity valued at $40 million. The recommendation to begin formal negotiations will go to the Board of County Commissioners at its Dec. 9 meeting.
The competing bid from OHP Joint Venture, led by led by Tennessee developer Mark Lineberry and Celebration-based businessman Gene Terrico, proposed Marriott as the hotel partner and teamed up with Marshall Hotels & Resorts as the operator.
Kerry Godwin, the county’s Community Development director, said both teams made excellent presentations, but one bidder had a better overall site plan and more detailed economic impact statement. “I think they’re both so close,” he said. “The one that has the most merit is Riviera Point.”
All of the committee members believed the Riviera Point plan displayed a better understanding of the E192 Design Standards.
Riviera Point added Carnahan, Proctor & Cross engineers, which is not involved in the Orlando project, to the development team. Apollo Bank is the lender.
Lemons said the team revised its master plan after the initial submittal and followed the design guidelines for the E192 CRA with regard to building placement and urban form. They also included an expansive covered walkway throughout the OHP campus linking the hotels to Silver Spurs arena, the exhibition hall and stadium.
The revised master plan also relocated the NeoCity hotel to the lakefront rather than placing it across from the BRIDG campus. “We think it’s a natural location for the urban concept they’re trying to create,” he said.
Tesi said the plan would be to first build the two limited-service hotels, which will have shared amenities. He anticipates a 10-12 month period for planning, permitting and design, followed by an 18-20 month construction period with delivery scheduled for 2022.
“We’ll give them about a year to get up and running and to allow for market absorption before we start the design for the two full service hotels,” he said.
Carlos Jose Chuman, finance and asset manager for Riviera Point, said the four hotels would create approximately 300 permanent positions and nearly 1,500 more direct and indirect jobs. The properties also would generate millions of dollars in revenue for the county each year through property and tourist development taxes.
A third bidder, AD1 Development, dropped out after the initial round when county officials sought more detailed information on the company’s financing and business plan.