Haines City Commissioners unanimously approved a major revision to Feltrim Group's Balmoral at Water's Edge resort community Thursday night to allow for construction of a new hotel at one of the city's prime intersections.
Balmoral is a 228-home resort at the southeast corner of U.S. 27 and U.S. 17-92. The new Mixed-Use Planned Unit Development (MUPUD) site plan calls for an 80-room hotel and 8,000-square-foot banquet center to be constructed at the main entrance to the vacation home community, on the site previously approved for a Ronaldo R9 Soccer Academy.
"The city really wanted a hotel, so we told them the best way to us to provide one would be to move the soccer fields to the back of the project," CEO Garrett Kenny told GrowthSpotter. "That way we could build a hotel right on U.S. 27."
Kenny said he would create a new soccer village on land that was originally slated to be the resort's third phase. It would include three soccer fields with locker facilities and would be surrounded by 24 vacation homes, a reduction from 64 lots in the original plan. The academy is slated to open in May 2019.
Kenny also added 10 sand volleyball courts at the request of Polk County's Tourism and Sports Marketing department, but said those courts could easily be converted to six residential lots if the volleyball program is unsuccessful.
Feltrim and consulting engineer Dave Schmitt had already received approval from the Southwest Florida Water Management District to start construction on the soccer fields and adjacent school/sports academy on the 10-acre parcel.
Kenny said he plans to move forward with a private school at that location that would have two NBA-regulation basketball courts, four indoor volleyball courts and virtual golf.
"It's one building, but it's going to be split," he said. "Fifty percent will be the sports facility, and the other 50 percent will be a private school."
The sports academy would open in November 2019, while the private school and hotel are slated for completion in early 2020.
Feltrim and general contractor Bellavista Building Group completed and sold 154 vacations homes so far and have 12 under construction.
"The rentals are doing quite well," Kenny said. "We've had a lot of visitors from the U.K. So far this summer our occupancy is over 90 percent."
For that reason, Kenny said he's considering keeping the hotel and banquet center under the Balmoral umbrella and operating them in-house.
"The banquet center will be primarily for events within Balmoral," he said. "It will have capacity for 150. We could do a buffet dinner if we have a bunch of kids in for a soccer tournament. It will also complement the wedding pavilion we built at Balmoral -- especially in the summer when we have so many thunderstorms."