Universal files new plan, designs for 'surf culture' hotel on ex-Wet 'n Wild site

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Universal Orlando has shared further design details on the first of two hotels it's building on the former Wet 'n Wild water park property along International Drive, expounding on a "surf culture" theme for the resort.

The company filed new design documents last week with the city of Orlando as part of an Administrative Master Plan, which follows the city's approval last year of its Framework Planned Development zoning. 

The new MP filing focuses only on the hotel Universal dubs "Project 370," which lies on the west side of Universal Boulevard on the site of the former water park, bordering Sandy Lake. 

Covering approximately 36 acres at 6200 I-Drive, the landscape and hardscape design envisions a "surf style" resort environment, "themed to convey elements of surf culture and a laid back atmosphere," Universal wrote in a memo to city planners. 

Site work and mass grading have been in progress on the property for much of the past year. Approval of this new MP in the coming month would keep Universal on track to build and open the hotel in Summer 2019, as it forecasted last November

The hotel will offer a "surf culture-inspired look that will be a mix between coastal beach life and modern-day resort comfort," the company wrote. Accents with bold design, pastel shades of blue and peach, and resort architecture will "transport the guest into the relaxed surf culture state of mind." 

The hotel will include 750 rooms, with two room types across five building wings that range from six to nine stories. Amenities include a surfboard-shaped swimming pool, food court, pool bar and recreational facilities.

The main central building will house the lobby/check-in, food court and amenities. Guest wings will interconnect with one another and the main facility building.

Landscaping will be heavy along the hotel's northern I-Drive frontage, and feature dense tree cover that serves as a visual buffer for the parking garage. 

The developer is also proposing that it invest in new themed paving and landscaping along the stretch of Universal Boulevard that runs between International and Carrier drives. That includes a spiral-designed paving accent that covers the entirety of public intersections on each end. 

Universal previously announced in November that this hotel and a 2,050-room hotel directly east, on the water park's former parking lot, would offer nightly rates starting at less than $100. A "laid-back coastal feel" with beach-inspired themes were described in general terms at that time.

The company has not filed a new MP for the east-side hotel project yet, city staff said Thursday.

Guest benefits at the hotels will include early park admission to Universal's theme parks and complimentary transportation across the theme park properties.

Contributors to Project 370's design and construction include Sloan Engineering Group, Kansas City-based SKS Studio, Georgia-based LPBC ArchitectureFINFROCK (building structure general contractor) and Hoar Construction (GC for interior, common areas and property). 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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