Project Snapshot: iSquare Mall + Hotel (Updated design plans)

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Revamped designs for the iSquare Mall + Hotel development provided to local media on Monday now reflect Orlando-based developer The BlackMINE Group's plans for two separate hotel towers on the southeast corner of International Drive and Kirkman Road. 

BlackMINE CEO Abdul Mathin told GrowthSpotter that updated designs and an amendment to the $400 million project's master plan were submitted to the City of Orlando on July 23, and may or may not require a hearing for approval, depending on city planning staff evaluation. 

The new design reduced the property's gross space from 2 million square feet to just over 1.6 million square feet, with a lower room count than originally planned, and a 500-seat performance theater has been scrapped from plans. The mall will remain at 380,000 square feet, as previously approved by the city in 2014. 

The property will feature two hotels managed by partner Capella Hotel Group, the five-star Solis Orlando Hotel with 500 rooms, and the Capella Orlando Hotels will 100 "ultra-luxurious" rooms. 

While the room count was cut, room sizes were increased, from a previous average of 375 square feet to between 450 square feet and 600 square feet, which is better aligned with standards of the five-star hotel market, Mathin said. 

More space in the building design was also allocated for "back of house" service and staff areas, he noted. 

Once Orlando city planners confirm the project's updated design, BlackMINE contractors can finalize schematic designs and send those out for bid, a process that may take six months. 

Applications for city building permits would follow, with Mathin targeting a groundbreaking between January and March 2016. If that timeline is followed, the building should be ready in 18 to 19 months, or Fall 2017, he said.  

The 27-floor Solis Orlando Hotel has been described by Mathin as a five-star facility that should feature seven-star amenities like an ice-skating rink, luxury car rentals, a helipad and more when it opens in Fall 2017.

Projected at $400 million, the project will include a five-story upscale mall, an 11-story parking garage, two hotels now with 600 total rooms, a 20,000-square-foot luxury spa on the property managed by UK-based Espa (reduced from 25,000 square feet during recent revisions), a 100,000-square-foot convention center, a rooftop observation deck with revolving restaurant and infinity pool, along with other amenities.

BlackMINE Group chose Balfour Beatty Construction as its contractor in 2014, but in March of this year changed its architecture firm from Scott Architecture to HKS Architects, Inc. The change to HKS and involvement in design by new hotel management partner Capella Hotel Group pushed the start date for groundwork from late summer this year to January-March of 2016. 

FAST FACTS

Location: International Drive and Kirkman Road
Owner: iSquare Mall & Hotel Developer LLC, affiliate of Orlando-based international real estate firm The BlackMINE Group
Start Date: Groundwork projected to start in First Quarter 2016
End Date: Fall 2017
Project Budget: $400 million
General Contractor: Balfour Beatty Construction; HKS Architects, Inc.
Description: A five-story upscale mall with a 27-story hotel, 100,000-square-foot convention center and luxury amenities throughout.

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