City Proposes 60-Room Hotel in Downtown
Updated: Aug 28, 2018
From the West Orange Times:
"Winter Garden tourists might be getting a new place to stay in the heart of downtown Winter Garden.
City commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 9 to allow city staff to draft a letter of intent expressing interest in a project that could bring a 60-room, boutique hotel to downtown Winter Garden. A developer reached out to the city to propose building the hotel at 8 N. Highland Ave. The old Progress Energy billing office currently sits on the site, which the city owns, City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said.
He added that the letter of intent shows that the city “is interested in building a hotel there … if this developer was able to meet all our criteria — for example: architectural standards, how the building interacts with the road, how much they’re going to pay, etc.”
“If they meet all those standards, then they (city) would sell them (developer) the property for the hotel,” Bollhoefer said.
In addition to the letter, the city would also contribute $15,000 toward design costs. If the project is approved, the developer will reimburse the city for the costs, Bollhoefer said.
“The $15,000 is our contribution because we’re so involved with the design — it’s our contribution to the design process,” he said. “We’d like to get very involved with the design because it’s critical to get this right to make sure it fits with downtown.”
He added the city currently has a 12-room hotel, however, more hotel rooms are needed.
Over the last five years, city staff has worked toward bringing more hotel rooms to Winter Garden. A hotel analysis conducted several years ago showed a need for at least 250 hotel rooms. If the project moves forward it would go through the normal rezoning process, including community meetings, according to the agenda.
“We need a nice, upscale hotel here in our community because we have people coming (to visit) and they’re ending up in Clermont (or) they’re ending up in Orlando,” Mayor John Rees said."
To correct a misstatement made by the City Manager, the "12-room hotel" that was referenced is the Historic Edgewater Hotel, located just blocks away from the proposed 60-room hotel. The Edgewater was built in the 1920's and has been a cornerstone in the community for almost a century. In the mid-1990's, the hotel underwent a multi-year restoration and in 2000, re-opened its first floor -- followed by the second floor in 2003.
The hotel currently has 22 units (which comprise single and two-room suites), with the capacity to expand to 48 rooms. In addition, the Edgewater Hotel owns a parking lot to the east of its building with the capacity to add another 40-60 rooms with a new building.
Mike Lanza, one of the owners and operators of the Edgewater Hotel, shares his thoughts:
"The Edgewater Hotel has been bringing people to Winter Garden for the last 18 years. We have the opportunity to talk to people from all over the world and get their feedback on what drew them to the area. Overwhelming, people come to the historic district to experience something unique and different. They love the history and authenticity of being in a working small town. However, the district will quickly lose its appeal if it is turned into another congested shopping district identical to those in almost every metropolitan area. And there are already many options for visiting small town facsimiles between Disney Springs and Citywalk."
Stay up-to-date with the progress of the new hotel proposal by attending the City Commissioner meetings held every 2nd and 4th Thursday at 6pm at the Winter Garden City Hall.