In what’s become a growing trend in Orlando’s tourism district, another developer is looking to abandon long-held hotel entitlements for vacant property in order to build multifamily housing.
Plans filed to Orange County show that New York-based Alpine Residential is under contract to take over 6.5 acres near the northeast intersection of World Center Drive and State Road 535, just south of Lake Bryan, next to the 1,333-key Caribe Royale Resort.
The county granted approval 30 years ago to a different developer to build a 280-room hotel on the site. While the project never materialized, the land-use designation for the original Paradise Hotel Planned Development remains intact.
An entity titled Zes International, LLC — managed by Orlando attorney Zachary Stoumbos — snagged the triangle-shaped parcel in 2012 for $600,000. In July, the owner submitted an application to the county with a change determination request to replace the hotel designation with a 177-unit multifamily community with three residential buildings.
The application requests a waiver to allow the buildings, set back 60 feet from S.R. 535, to rise as tall as 75 feet instead of 60 feet, according to site plans drafted by Kimley-Horn.
A conceptual sketch of the apartment community shows the clubhouse attached to one V-shaped residential building that surrounds a pool amenity on three sides.
The other two rectangular buildings on the east side of the property face the pool and a dog park.
The land owner nor Todd Schefler, a managing principal with Alpine Residential, could be reached for comment as of Friday afternoon.
Alpine is currently developing more than 3,000 multifamily units in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Florida, according to its website.
While there are a few examples of developers keeping hotel entitlements in place to develop hospitality assets along the I-Drive corridor —plans were filed recently for a 200-room hotel with 60,000 square feet of entertainment space on the south shore of Lake Bryan — the proposal by Alpine is among several in the works for this area and beyond that involve a shift away from original hotel plans to multifamily.
“I think there’s more appetite for multifamily development versus brand new hotel development,” said Scott Ramey, the Executive Managing Director with the brokerage firm Newmark. “And that’s why you are seeing a lot of these sites get converted. It’s kind of the combination of strong population growth, a strong job market, and home ownership getting to be a lot more expensive.”
On land along the western shore of Lake Bryan, a developer had planned to bring the Orlando area Planet Hollywood International’s first luxury brand ph Premiere resort. The concept was scrapped and now plans are in motion to deliver a mixed-use community with 332 multifamily units and 5,300 square feet of commercial space.
While the plan still holds entitlements for as many as 400 hotel rooms, that’s a far cry from the 1,186 hotel rooms that were approved under the Planet Hollywood proposal.
Across the street from where Alpine is planning to build its apartment project, Comterra Development Group is looking to amend the International Commerce Center PD to allow for 2,888 multifamily residential dwelling units, 200,000 square feet of commercial space, and 200 hotel rooms.
The PD currently is entitled for 500 hotel rooms and 415 timeshare units.
And a short drive to the east, at the corner of World Center Drive and International Drive, The Bainbridge Companies is building out its 806-unit Bainbridge World Center on property that was formerly pegged for hotel rooms.
Given the overall supply of hotels in the tourist corridor and the lack of available multifamily housing, the trend isn’t concerning to Austin LaPoten, vice president of hotel investment sales with CBRE.
“There is strong demand for additional multifamily units in the area,” he said. “There has been no sign of population growth slowing in Orlando and rent growth is still very strong in Orlando.”
He notes that many major hotel projects are still moving forward in the tourism district. The Evermore Orlando Resort, slated for 1,100 acres near Walt Disney World, is inching closer to its summer 2023 grand opening. The site will be anchored by an expansive 433-room Conrad Hotel overlooking the region’s first Crystal Lagoon.
Nobu Hotel Orlando is expected to open by 2025 on land along Interstate-4 directly across from Disney theme parks. The global luxury hotel and restaurant chain has 14 locations nationwide and is co-founded by actor Robert De Niro and world-renowned Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa.
The Orlando resort will feature 300 rooms and villas, a Nobu restaurant, 50 branded residences, and meeting and event space, the website says.
The chain is known for blending modern luxury living with Japan’s minimalist tradition.
This week, London-based Tao Group Hospitality — known for providing entertainment experiences through its worldwide portfolio of restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, and day clubs —announced it would be bringing its first-ever luxury hotel concept to Unicorp National Development’s mixed-use project O-Town West.
Tao Hotel is expected to rise 15 stories and would feature an Asian Bistro and rooftop bar as the anchor to the development’s city center.
Osceola County’s Everest Place is also slated to get four new hotels, including the nation’s first Mysk flag next year in Phase 1 and a Nickelodeon hotel in Phase 2.
For the hotel sector, “there is a ton to be optimistic about,” LaPoten added. “Especially with all the major new hotel demand generators that recently opened or are underway such as Universal’s Epic Universe Theme Park development full steam ahead, MCO’s Terminal C expansion recently completed and opened, Brightline connecting to MCO in 2023, and the new rides that recently open or are under construction at Walt Disney World.”
But Ramey, with Newmark, expects to see more multifamily projects move into the corridor as well, some of them replacing hotel plans along the way.
According to a recent report by the Urban Land Institute, the country needs 4.3 million newly built apartments between now and 2035 — or 331,000 new multifamily rental units annually—to meet demand.
Orange County alone needs roughly 55,000 additional apartment units by 2030, according to the Florida Apartment Association.
“That (tourism) area is really ground zero for a huge concentration of jobs and that really kind of lends itself to apartment residents,” Ramey said. “You have a lot of owners and developers on the apartment space who are looking for good sites, and a lot of those are not currently zoned for multifamily. I expect this phenomenon to continue.”