I had the chance to ask Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer about the three new hotels being built or planned in the downtown Orlando area.
This boomlet is significant for downtown, especially if you include a fourth project, the new Aloft Downtown Orlando that opened last year.
The new projects: A proposed Hyatt Place at Garland and South; a Residence Inn at the corner of Colonial and Orange; and a renovation of the former OUC building near the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre.
“We want to attract business travelers as well as leisure,” Dyer said. “We’ve been working with Visit Orlando and concierge desks at hotels to add downtown attractions to the list of local attractions. A lot of things at the Amway Center bring in out-of-town visitors.”
Dyer said the city has made it clear that new hotel projects won’t be eligible for incentive money. The exception is a new hotel at the planned Orlando Magic entertainment complex, which is getting incentives to build a larger convention meeting space.
“We asked them to increase the meeting space there, so they could help fill other hotels downtown,” Dyer said.
Dyer recalled when, in 1978, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted to build the convention center on International Drive instead of downtown Orlando. That move guaranteed a hotel boom that wouldn’t be centered downtown.
“It was controversial at the time. Sometimes I do wonder what would have happened if it had gone on Orange Blossom Trail closer to downtown. But it would be a starkly different downtown if we had all that tourism traffic here, and not necessarily good for our neighborhoods here,” Dyer said.
Hyatt is planning a 205-room hotel that would appeal to business travelers and is just across Interstate 4 from the Amway Center. It’s also walking distance from the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Dyer said the owner of the project, Tremont Realty Capital, was involved in talks over the location of the SunRail station and didn’t want it the southbound platform right next to the hotel lot.
“There’s still some of those things to be worked out. There may be some issues about ingress-egress,” Dyer said.