Miami-based Urban Network Capital Group (UNCG), which has built luxury hotels and condos across much of South Florida, is making a major push into the Orlando market with a trio of new development projects, starting with a wellness-themed condo hotel on Kissimmee’s W192 tourism corridor.
UNCG paid $1.15 million in late August for the 1.6-acre parcel on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway at Bamboo Lane, just east of Vineland Road/S.R. 535 and adjacent to the main entry road for Lennar’s Story Lake resort community. The developer, which also maintains an office in Mexico City, successfully rezoned the land to Urban Center Core, which matches the future land use.
The company has completed a dozen condominium projects across South Florida, as well as the Aloft, Element and Four Points Sheraton hotels — all in Miami. Principal Robert Thorne told GrowthSpotter that other than a few projects in Mexico, UNCG is shifting its focus and operations to Central Florida, primarily in Osceola County.
“We would love to do a couple of thousand units in Orlando over the next five years or so,” he said. “We’re not in a hurry to get product out. We’re more concentrating on bringing the right product — the right architectural design, the right services and amenities that the buyers are looking for.”
The first is the $32 million project on Bamboo Lane, just west of the main entry road to Storey Lake Resort and across from Lake Cecile. The Flats Resort and Spa will be a 160-unit condo hotel will a mix of fully furnished units ranging from studios up to 3-bedroom units with a full service spa, a gym and 24-hour restaurant service. There’s also a rooftop terrace where guests can enjoy the Disney fireworks shows.
Every aspect of the hotel, from the on-site nutritionist to circadian lighting in every unit, has been designed to focus on the health and wellness of its guests. The paints and bedding are nontoxic and allergy free, the units contain probiotic eco sanitizing diffusion systems to kill bacteria and viruses in the air and on surfaces. Even the showers purify the water to remove chlorine and diffuse it with vitamin C and collagen.
“So, by putting a separator of chlorine in the water, you’re basically bathing and inhaling spring water, like if it was coming from a mountain top,” Thorne said. “And then the vitamin C and the collagen is just an added feature that is diffused through the shower, which adds a pleasant scent.”
The complex has been designed to minimize unnecessary contact. There is no front desk. Instead, guests valet park their cars, go straight to their rooms and open the door with their smartphone.
“We’re doing a 100% keyless facility where all your access and everything for the project is done through your phone,” Thorne said. “This way, you don’t have to be holding anything that somebody else held before.”
The concept for a wellness-themed hotel actually predated COVID. Many of the same features planned for The Flats are already offered by Marriott hotels in their Stay Well Rooms, including at the Residence Inn in Lake Nona. The pandemic just accelerated the concept.
“We know that the COVID is eventually going to neutralize itself, but something else would come, and we understand that there’s a level of protection that we now have to keep for the rest of our life,” Thorne said.
Central Florida Contractors Corp., a joint venture between Hurst Construction and De Sosa Construction, is the general contractor. The project is 66% self-funded by ZKC, a Mexico City-based REIT. The developer intends to take out a $10.5 million construction loan. The Pearl Group, based in Miami, will lead the sales.
Thorne said bringing in ODA, which has extensive experience in the hospitality industry, was important. “We know how to build condos, that’s what we’ve been doing our whole life, so we wanted that we wanted to make sure that the architectural firm brought the hotel piece from the US in order and combine it with our experience with condos, so that we can bring in a good product,” he said.