Capital Plaza III to Mix Hotel, Condos, Office in Downtown Orlando

Apr. 27--Hotelier Richard Kessler will develop a 150-room Hampton Inn & Suites as part of a $100 million project in downtown Orlando, it was announced Wednesday.

Day Dantzler, chief financial officer for the Kessler Collection Inc., which owns and operates hotels in Florida and Georgia, said the company views participating in the Capital Plaza III development "as a great opportunity."

He noted that Richard Kessler "was considered a maverick" when he opened the Westin Grand Bohemian Hotel across from Orlando City Hall in 2001, but that luxury hotel has been very successful.

Brian A. Py, vice president of development and finance for the Kessler Collection, said the Hampton Inn & Suites is "a perfect niche product for downtown Orlando," appealing to both business and leisure travelers.

The hotel, within yards of another Hilton Hotels' brand, the 167-room Embassy Suites, would have a swimming pool, a lounge and about 3,000 square feet of meeting space.

Dave Theophilus, president of DMT Hospitality Associates, an Orlando consulting firm, said Hampton and Embassy Suites target somewhat different markets with the latter "more for the extended-stay market."

But, Theophilus added, Kessler knows the downtown market and surely is confident there's sufficient demand for both operations. He said the older Marriott Downtown and The Ivanhoe likely would be hurt most by the new hotel.

Mike Beale, senior vice president for Florida operations for Highwoods Properties Inc., which owns the 2.2-acre site at the southeast corner of Rosalind Avenue and Pine Street, said Atlanta-based architects and planners Cooper Carey is designing the complex.

"They're known for expertise in mixed-use projects," Beale said.

In addition to the hotel, plans call for a 121-unit, 13-story condo tower and a 15-story office tower with 180,000 square feet of space. The complex also would have up to 15,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Beale said the residential developer -- a national builder -- would be identified within a few weeks.

He noted that about a half-acre of open space facing Rosalind Avenue is included in the design.

Construction is to start late this year with the various components completed in phases over 2007 and 2008, Beale said.

The project would complete Highwoods Properties' Capital Plaza development, which so far has the Capital Plaza I and Capital Plaza II office buildings and the Embassy Suites hotel.

In formally announcing the project, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said: "The momentum downtown continues. Just look around you."

[Orlando Sentinel, The (FL) (KRT) -- 04/28/06]