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Lion's Gate Development and Hilton Hotels Corp. Finalize Agreement
 for a 225-room Waldorf-Astoria in Downtown Sarasota, Florida

By Stacey Eidson, The Bradenton Herald, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 27, 2008 -SARASOTA -- The Waldorf-Astoria hotel soon will be the newest five-star hotel in Sarasota.

Lion's Gate Development, along with Hilton Hotels Corp., finalized its agreement in New York City on Tuesday to include the 225-room Waldorf-Astoria hotel as a key component in the $1 billion mixed-use project called The Proscenium near downtown Sarasota.

Plans for The Proscenium cover approximately two city blocks, or more than six acres, along U.S. 41 in Sarasota. The upscale development, which also includes approximately 445,000 square feet of office, retail, restaurant and theater space, is expected to begin construction by late this year with an anticipated completion date of 2010.

"We are simply delighted to share in the announcement with Lion's Gate Development that The Proscenium will include a Waldorf-Astoria Sarasota," Ernest Wooden Jr., executive vice president -- brand management of Hilton Hotels Corporation stated in a press release. "We considered many prestigious locations, but the scope and quality of The Proscenium truly complemented the characteristics of a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and vice versa."

Hilton Hotel Corporation has been watching the Sarasota market for years as a possible future location for one of its luxury hotels, Wooden added.

Gary Moyer, president of Lion's Gate Development in Sarasota, has been eager to get the plans for The Proscenium moving.

"Having a world-renowned luxury brand like the Waldorf-Astoria will draw international attention, not only to The Proscenium, but to the Sarasota-Manatee area as well," Moyer stated in the release. "Our association with a high-end luxury hotel was a critical part of our plan."

The Waldorf-Astoria will join the Ritz-Carlton/Marriott and the Hyatt as three of the top luxury hotel chains offered in Sarasota.

The famed Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City's Park Avenue is known as a home-away-from-home for celebrities, dignitaries and many presidents. The hotel in Sarasota is expected to include 38,000 square feet of ballroom space, a Peacock Alley Lounge and a roof-top pool overlooking the bay front. Within the 18-story hotel tower, there will also be 67 Waldorf-Astoria Residences, complete with daily 24-hour concierge services.

Stacey Eidson, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7908.


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