|By Christopher Sherman, The Orlando
Sentinel, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 13, 2007 - WINTER PARK
JW Marriott will operate a luxury hotel on the site of this city's legendary Langford Hotel.
City commissioners approved the elite hotel brand to run the destination for well-heeled guests Monday night on a 3-0 vote.
Owner Langford CP, LLC plans a 250-room hotel, spa and event space at the corner of Interlachen and New England avenues. That space has been empty since the Langford Hotel closed in 2000 and was demolished in 2003. The principal owners and developers are John Anderson and Jim Heistand.
Work on the site is scheduled to begin in May, Anderson said.
Doug Trovillion, developer of condominiums across New England Avenue, said his condo owners are excited about the hotel.
"It's the final piece of the puzzle that we need on the east side of Park Avenue," Trovillion said.
The city approved the site for a 230-room hotel and spa in 2001, and the owners had been searching for an operator ever since. Monday, commissioners agreed to amend that to 250 rooms with additional changes to how the hotel's space would be used.
The ballroom and meeting space would be larger than initially approved, increasing to 14,570 square feet from 8,250 square feet. The spa would shrink to 12,000 square feet from 20,000 square feet.
The agreement allows the units to be individually sold as condominiums but rented as hotel rooms when not in use. However, Anderson said it is no longer their intention to use the condo-hotel model.
The six-story hotel would have a slightly smaller footprint than what the city approved in 2001, Anderson said. Anderson and Heistand did agree to add 30 parking spaces to those originally approved, because of the additional meeting space in the plans.
The only objections came from the neighboring luxury condominiums, The Residences. Bill Battaglia, president of the condo's association, said condo owners had not been shown plans in advance. He said they had concerns about additional parking being available to their guests in the hotel garage and the hotel's architecture.
Battaglia said there was a "strained" relationship with Heistand, who developed The Residences, and Anderson, who joined him on that project. Anderson and Heistand own condos there. Anderson said Battaglia's comments were "personal" and would be sorted out.
Mayor David Strong was joined by commissioners Margie Bridges and Doug Metcalf in approving JW Marriott as the operator. Commissioner John Eckbert left the discussion because he said his father was undergoing heart surgery. Commissioner Karen Diebel did not attend.
Christopher Sherman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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