|By Sara K. Clarke, The Orlando Sentinel,
Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 26, 2011--Developers have scaled down earlier plans for a 260-room Kimpton Hotel near Lake Eola in downtown Orlando and now hope to build a 155-room Cambria Suites instead.
If approved by city officials, the $20 million project would be the first newly built hotel in the city center since the Grand Bohemian opened in 2001.
Construction would begin at the end of this year or in early 2012, according to Craig Starkey, vice president of development for Concord Eastridge, the Arlington, Va.-based company that is developing the hotel on the southwest corner of Rosalind Avenue and Washington Street.
"It's kind of an upper-scale, limited-service hotel," Starkey said.
The nine-story property would target business travelers, competing for customers with such existing downtown hotels as the Grand Bohemian, Sonesta Orlando and nearby Embassy Suites.
The larger downtown submarket has been less than stellar for hotels in recent years, but Starkey said his company expects the city center to do better as the lodging business recovers from the recession. Hotels in the submarket filled about 59 percent of their rooms on average last year, according to Smith Travel Research, compared with a 63.2 percent average occupancy rate for hotels throughout the Orlando market.
The Cambria's developers are counting on the property's view to be a draw. The site, next door to St. George Orthodox Church, is directly across from Lake Eola and the Disney Amphitheatre. An empty two-story office building currently sits on the property.
The site is also across Washington Street from the Metropolitan at Lake Eola, a residential condominium that, until its conversion in 2004, had been a hotel in one form or another for four decades.
Although the Cambria Suites land is already zoned for a hotel, developers have to take the project before the city's Municipal Planning Board to obtain its approval for changes in their original plans, Starkey said.
The hotel would be scheduled for completion in early 2013.
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