An entity that’s held onto a prime chunk of real estate in Orlando’s tourism district since the early 1980′s is looking to reduce hotel entitlements to allow for more multifamily units ahead of a potential land sale.
Rebecca Wilson, an attorney with the Lowndes Law firm, filed an application to Orange County on Nov. 23 seeking to change the land use for a 33-acre parcel within the World Gateway PD to allow the development of an additional 900 multifamily units.
Application materials list Orlando-based Intram Investments Inc. as the purchaser under contract to take over the land. The developer has been bullish in this area over the past several years. In 2019, it snagged 37 acres just to the east where The Bainbridge Companies is now building an 806-unit apartment community. A year later, it paid $22.7 million for an 18-acre development site north of Universal Orlando’s planned Epic Universe theme park.
Intram is also the master developer of Kissimmee’s Sunrise City, a 238-acre mixed-use community on S.R. 535/Vineland Road where a number of apartment complexes surround a Publix-anchored shopping center.
Randy Hodge, Intram’s executive vice president, declined to comment on the most recent application.
The request would combine parcels K2 and K4 with the adjacent parcel K1, to create a 33.5-acre lot and would remove entitlements for 798 hotel rooms for the property just south of Disney Springs, but it wouldn’t strip away all of the development opportunities for vacation rentals.
If the change determination review is approved, parcel K1 along the corner of International Drive and Continental Gateway, would be left with entitlements for 2,385 apartment units and 4,680 hotel rooms.
The application was filed on behalf of the current property owner, an Orlando-based entity titled Gcb Associates LLC. The entity was originally led by developer George C. Barley, who at one time owned nearly 840 acres across both sides of I-Drive between Interstate-4, to the west, and S.R. 535 to the east. The southernmost parcel, a 31.4-acre tract, sits along the Osceola County line, south of State Road 417.
Up until his 1995 death in a plane crash, Barley was a “real force here,” said Trevor Hall, executive managing director of land services with Colliers International.
“He purchased that whole stretch there before that interchange leading into Epcot was fully funded,” Hall said. “He knew what was going on. He was an entrepreneurial real estate expert. And now they are at the point of infinite return for those properties.”
Since Barley acquired the land here in the early 1980′s, the entity has sold off some of the parcels. In 1997 a 24-acre piece between I-Drive and World Center Drive sold to a developer to build the 777-key Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites.
At least three of the parcels were sold to multifamily developers, leading to the construction of the 408-unit Camden World Gateway apartments, built in 2000, the 252-unit Halston World Gateway apartments, built in 2008, and the 411-unit Cortland World Gateway, built in 2018.
In 2001, Marriott International was under contract to build a Residence Inn Springfield Suites on Parcel K — the subject of the application submitted this week. Those plans stalled.
Recently, the World Gateway PD has seen the arrival of other development plans.
In 2021, Orlando-based Darton US Holdings, an investment vehicle for Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas, filed an application to transfer three parcels from the World Gateway PD to the nearby Ten Acres International Orlando PD. The change, approved by the county in November of 2021, removed 372 hotel entitlements from the World Gateway PD and gave the Ten Acres PD entitlements for a total of 850 hotel rooms.
That set the stage for plans by Development Ventures Group to build a five-story Fairmont Orlando hotel between I-Drive and I-4 with 550 guestrooms, including 90 suites and 12 villas along the perimeter of three planned pools, and 87 Fairmont Gold rooms. The brand’s signature experience will be offered on the top floor and include a 5,000-square-foot private lounge.
Amenities include a 140-seat signature restaurant, a specialty Mediterranean restaurant, an upscale steakhouse, a gourmet café, and various bars and lounges with both indoor and outdoor seating. Other boasted features are a 12,000-square-foot spa and wellness center; over 44,000 square feet of meeting and event space; three swimming pools, including a family pool, a lazy river and an adults-only pool; children and young adult centers; a library and business center; and ample retail space.
Fairmont Orlando is slated to open in early 2025 and will mark the brand’s 20th property in the United States.
Chris Liew, who leads Gcb Associates LLC, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
This is the latest development proposal along I-Drive that calls for the removal of hotel entitlements for apartment units.
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.
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.
This PD currently is entitled for 500 hotel rooms and 415 timeshare units.
“I think there’s more appetite for multifamily development versus brand new hotel development,” Scott Ramey, the Executive Managing Director with the brokerage firm Newmark told GrowthSpotter recently. “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.”