Osceola County has resumed negotiations with Riviera Point Development Group for the development of up to four hotels at Osceola Heritage Park and NeoCity.
Miami-based Riviera Point won the competitive bidding process back in 2019 for the hotel sites, but the project stalled in 2020 because of COVID-19 and its devastating impact on the hospitality industry. Dave Tomek, the county’s community development director, told GrowthSpotter the parties came back to the table in 2021 and expect to bring a development agreement to the Board of County Commissioners this quarter for the multi-phased development program.
Eduardo Tesi, senior project manager for Riviera Point, said the firm is recommending some changes to the master plan since their initial proposal. The plan still would be to build an upper mid-scale select-service hotel and a limited-service hotel in the first two phases, followed by a full-service convention hotel in phase 3, but the locations would be switched. The first hotels would be constructed at the Fortune Road intersection with U.S. 192 in the southwest corner of the property. The Phase 3 hotel would be moved to the southeast corner, at the Bill Beck Road intersection with U.S. 192.
Osceola County filled a large stormwater retention pond at the Fortune Road intersection and redirected the stormwater across the highway into the man-made lake in NeoCity. “We decided that the county already invested all that money to get that site ready, let’s just jump into that corner,” Tesi said. “So we resumed and focused our design efforts into coming up with a site plan that is agreeable to all parties in that location.”
Instead of building the first two hotels concurrently, the new plan is to build and stabilize the first hotel before breaking ground on the second. That’s partly because the second hotel would be tied to the county building a parking garage on the site.
Tesi said the first hotel would be a 150-room TRYP by Wyndham. Riviera Group opened the area’s first TRYP flag on International Drive near SeaWorld in 2020. The firm selected TRYP for the OHP site partly the Average Daily Rate (ADR) starting at $130 and going up to $150 per night is higher than most hotels in the area. The lifestyle brand also includes meeting space, a fitness center, a central hub with a full-service bar and selection of tapas, and a variety of room types. Some rooms are designated for families and come with a set of bunk beds and two queens. Others include a treadmill or exercise bike in the room — at a premium rate.
“We’re very familiar with the brand,” he said. “We’re actually building one in Miami in the proximity of the Miami airport right now. One of the things we like about the brand is that it has a high degree of customization in terms of the interior design. It’s not cookie-cutter.”
For the TRYP on I-Drive, the developer maxed out the number of family rooms and selected a different theme-park design theme for each of the four floors. Even the hallway carpet incorporates a pattern based on a map of the Interstate 4 corridor.
Tesi said the OHP location would highlight the venue’s largest attractions, so it might have a rodeo-themed floor, another focusing on classic cars or country music. The developer also wants to highlight the hotel’s proximity to new tech district across the street. “NeoCity is also a component that is important in terms of what we can incorporate in the interior design concepts,” he said.
The first development phase also will include about 30,000 square feet of retail to support the hotel and an upscale restaurant with around 7,200 square feet. “The whole idea is to have a sit-down good restaurant with a good wine list,” he said. “We don’t have the actual franchise or brand defined yet, but it could be something like a Cooper’s Hawk concept or a nice steakhouse.”
For the second phase, Riviera Point had initially proposed a La Quinta flag, similar to what it built next to the TRYP on I-Drive, but Tesi said the firm is now reconsidering because La Quinta was acquired by Wyndham and utilizes the same reservation platform. The second hotel also would have at least 150 rooms but would be a limited-service brand with a lower ADR at around $110 per night. “The idea is each hotel is targeted to a different segment,” Tesi said.
The developer’s goal is to win approval for the Phase 1 and 2 site plan and lease agreement by the second quarter of the year and break ground on Phase 1 during the third quarter. Allowing at least two years for construction and absorption of the two smaller hotels would provide the county with a healthy window of time to get the Phase 3 site construction-ready. That could include relocation of existing drainage ponds, utility work, some building demolition and construction of new interior roads.
The Phase 3 hotel would be a full-service hotel with at least 250 rooms, structured parking and meeting space. The developer’s initial proposal also included a 200-room boutique hotel in NeoCity for Phase 4, but the site that was on the 2019 plan is part of the property now under contract to Korean billionaire Young-hwa Song for the development of a $1 billion smart city town center in NeoCity. Tesi said the development agreement will probably include some language saying the NeoCity terms and location would be negotiated at a later date.