Seralago owner wants to raze W192 hotel and put up condos

The owners of Kissimmee's Seralago Hotel & Suites are planning a multi-phased redevelopment of the 43-year-old hotel on the W192 tourist corridor.

With 614 rooms in 10 buildings spread out over 18 acres, Seralago is one of the corridor's largest hotel properties. It's in a prime location, situated between the Old Town/Fun Spot America complex and the $1.7 billion Magic Place development, which should break ground later this year.

Seralago owner, Pan American Venture Fund LLC, wants to demolish the hotel buildings, starting with 9 and 10 along the eastern boundary, and replace them with either apartments or condos. 

The stretch of W192 between Interstate 4 and S.R. 535, known as the entertainment district, is on the verge of a major renaissance. Old Town and Fun Spot are spending $10 million on new rides, restaurants and signage.

The owners of the Roomba Inn are planning to raze their hotel and build a new $42 million resort with new retail and two branded hotels. And Magic Development enlisted Italian designer Pininfarina to design its luxury, branded resort and shopping center.

Last week, W192 Development Authority Executive Director David Buchheit said a mystery developer is planning a $400 million hotel, convention center and entertainment venue in the district. 

"I'm excited to see more redevelopment happening in Segment 2 (of the W192 redevelopment district)," Buchheit said. "I think this project will complement the new development at Magic Place the renewal of Old Town."

Seralago opened its first four buildings in 1973 under the Holiday Inn flag and was expanded multiple times. Astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn was one of the original owners. Buildings 9 and 10, which are targeted for demolition first, were built in 1989 and have 157 rooms.

Pan American bought the hotel in 2012 for $7.25 million. Vice President Yawei Wang told GrowthSpotter the company has been mulling the project for years. "We actually had it in mind before we knew about Magic Place," she said. "We changed the zoning in January 2015."

Wang said Pan American wants to create a sophisticated community with an urban feel. She and her partners have lived in New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and they predict that Orlando's tech industry will take off in the next decade.

"We also have a mission that we want to serve local hard working people," she said. 

Wang said they would love to start the demolition as soon as possible, but won't rush the project.

"We’re going to phase out the hotel," she said. "We want to respect the legend that this property has. We have some people coming to our hotel for three generations. Some of our guests came as teenagers and now they bring their grandchildren. I still want to protect the affection that’s viewed from first-generation Disney visitors."

Wang met with Osceola County staff Sept. 7 to discuss phasing, building placement and other site issues.

With a Commercial Tourist zoning, the site would be entitled for 60 dwelling units per acre -- about 1,000 units. But meeting that density would be extremely difficult because the county requires one acre of recreational space for every 50 units. 

One solution would be to build "structured amenities," according to Jose Gomez, principal engineer for the county. He said multifamily developers can get significant recreation credits for building a clubhouse. 

Since the property already has two swimming pools, a playground and a pair of tennis courts, county staffers agreed those could count toward the recreation space, as long as residents have access to the hotel amenities.

The other key challenge the owners must address is how to realign the interior streets so they connect with the street grid next door at Magic Place. Gomez told Wang she could eliminate the frontage road on the north end of the property and move the new building closer to W192.

The county has reduced the building setbacks on the corridor to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment. That calls for eliminating frontage roads and replacing them with a street grid with shorter, urban block sizes and connectivity between properties.

"What you do instead of the frontage road will be key to whether you can get rid of the frontage road," Gomez said. "The key is we need to take advantage of Magic Place and connect to that street grid."

Development Review Director Mahmoud Najda suggested scheduling a followup meeting to discuss the street grid and connectivity before the hotel submits a conceptual plan.  

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407)420-6261, or tweet me at @LKinslerOGrowth. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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