|By Sara K. Clarke, The Orlando Sentinel,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 24, 2012--The companies behind a new, upscale hotel brand in South Florida have acquired the Royal Plaza Hotel near Walt Disney World.
InSite Group, a real estate development and investment company based in Weston, and Cube Capital of London vowed to renovate and reposition the 394-room hotel, which caters to tourists visiting Disney World.
"It's a phenomenal location, obviously, given that it's on Disney property within the Walt Disney World resort," said Ronald Tencer, InSite's vice president of acquisitions.
The two companies own two other hotels: The B Ocean Fort Lauderdale, and the Continental South Beach, which is undergoing a renovation and will be rebranded as B South Beach. The B Hotels & Resort brand, which was launched with the Fort Lauderdale property, is described as an "innovative and unpretentious" upper-upscale brand focused on "self-expression."
Tencer said they haven't made the final determination on whether the Royal Plaza will be rebranded under the "B" brand.
"Right now, there hasn't been any determination regarding that," he said. "It's a process, and we're going through the process now."
According to Orange County property records, InSite and Cube acquired the ground lease on the property along Disney's Hotel Plaza Boulevard in late December. Hotels along the boulevard are on Disney property; each parcel is leased from Disney by the hotel's operator.
InSite declined to disclose the purchase price, but document taxes paid in connection with the transaction indicate a sale price of $16 million.
The hotel, at 1905 Hotel Plaza Blvd., has had a series of owners over the years, including time-share mogul David Siegel, who sold it for $43.5 million as part of a divorce settlement in 1998.
The Royal Plaza, built in 1972, has had a rough time during the past decade. A nationwide slump in travel following the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington caused the property to fall behind on a $35 million loan. The building was then damaged by a string of hurricanes that hit Orlando in August and September 2004, forcing it to close for repairs. The hotel had also been foreclosed upon.
Tencer said InSite and Cube bought the property from Wells Fargo and Archon Group, which were serving as special servicers for the property.
The company plans to renovate nearly all areas of the hotel, including guest rooms, public spaces, meeting space, pool, and food-and-beverage operation.
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