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Oct. 17--WEST PALM BEACH -- South Florida's first Canopy by Hilton property is one step closer to reality.

On Monday, Driftwood Acquisitions and Development (DAD) of Coral Gables broke ground on its first hotel project in Palm Beach County -- the 150-room Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach.

The new $50 million lifestyle hotel under construction at 704 S. Dixie Highway is going up about two blocks from City Place, the downtown retail, dining and entertainment complex.

"West Palm Beach is a lively and entertaining area for all ages, and we are confident that this thriving neighborhood is the perfect fit for the Canopy brand," said Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of DAD, an affiliate of North Palm Beach-based Driftwood Hospitality Management. "We've always wanted a hotel that was close to our management headquarters and we are now living that dream."

The 14-story hotel project -- about three years in the making -- is expected to create more than 480 jobs, Rodriguez said. Construction will take about 18 months to complete for a targeted opening in the first quarter of 2019.

Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches, said the new Canopy hotel will be "another great lodging option for convention delegates and leisure travelers coming to West Palm Beach

The Canopy by Hilton West Palm Beach will include a rooftop pool, lounge, two full-service restaurants, gym and 5,000 square feet of event space. Guests will have complimentary bicycle and Wi-Fi access, mobile check-in abilities and free breakfast and evening tastings of local beer, wine and spirits, according to the developer.

"Canopy is such a great fit for West Palm Beach," said Gary Steffen, the hotel brand's vice president and global head.

Steffen said there are about 30 approved applications in other cities for the new brand. "We won't put Canopy in just any market," he said.

Hilton Worldwide launched Canopy in October 2014, touting it as an energizing new neighborhood hotel concept. Each hotel embraces local elements in its design and food and beverage services.

The first Canopy hotel in North America -- Canopy by Hilton Washington DC The Wharf -- opened recently, while another, the 115-room Canopy Reykjavik City Centre in Iceland's capital, opened in mid-2016.

In recent years, Hilton Worldwide has been growing its South Florida footprint with more lifestyle and full-service properties primarily under its Hilton, Doubletree and Conrad brands.

Among them is the 290-unit, all-suite Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach resort, which opened earlier this month along Fort Lauderdale Beach and the 400-room Hilton West Palm Beach, which started welcoming guests in January 2016.

Driftwood's DAD division is also involved in the development of a 150-room DoubleTree by Hilton in Doral, which is currently under construction.

"South Florida, it has all the givens," Steffen said. "You've got these amazing markets that have high demand so Hilton being [here] is really, really critical for our overall development strategy."

asatchell@sun-sentinel.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport

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