An empty piece of Daytona Beach oceanfront is getting ready to rock.
Within 60 days, early stage site work is slated to begin on the Hard Rock Hotel and Cafe project, a 460,000-square-foot development that will have about 240 hotel rooms, 107 condos, a 250-seat restaurant, a 360-space parking garage and four pools.
Full construction of the hotel on the sandy lot roughly one mile south of the Daytona Beach Pier is expected to begin in the latter half of 2015 and wrap up by the end of 2017 or early 2018.
Those were some of the details surrounding the $100 million-plus development revealed Monday in a press conference at the Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores.
“Since signing the letter of intent with Hard Rock in December of 2012, we have been working diligently to realize a new vision for Daytona Beach,” said Henry Wolfond, CEO of Canada-based Bayshore Capital Inc., the developer of the Hard Rock complex that will be located on the 10-acre oceanfront property.
News of the project gearing up for construction was welcomed by several local leaders.
“The stars are getting properly aligned,” said Mayor Derrick Henry. “It’ll only lend to greater confidence in Daytona Beach. … This is one of the biggest things that can happen to us.”
City Manager Jim Chisholm was also happy to hear things are moving forward after a few years of waiting for the project to launch.
“That’s great,” Chisholm said. “That’s good for Daytona and the beachfront. I think they’ll be a catalyst for a lot of other development.”
While the project is about two years behind the originally projected timeline, Wolfond and one of his vice presidents say there’s no particular problem slowing progress. Things have just taken longer than expected, they say.
“A project of this type has a lot of moving parts,” said John Ott, vice president of development for Bayshore Capital.
Those moving parts have included signing contracts with Hard Rock, securing a special planned development zoning from the city, pursuing OKs on a dozen or so permits from the city and state, designing the buildings and their rooms, finding people interested in buying a condo and lining up contractors. The Hard Rock’s design team stays busy traveling the globe, and getting a meeting with those officials was also often a challenge, Wolfond said.
“It’s difficult to get these big things moving,” Chisholm said.
Secured permits now include one that will allow sea wall improvement work and two others that will allow work on driveways, drainage and a parking lot.
Bids from subcontractors are expected this week.
“We’ve been spending a lot of money and moving as quickly as we can,” Wolfond said.
After spending $6 million to buy the Hard Rock site a few years ago, Wolfond said his company has sunk millions of dollars more into preliminary work.
“We wouldn’t be doing preliminary work if we didn’t feel like this would come together,” Wolfond said.
Part of that work included asking last summer to one day have the Hard Rock project’s section of the beach vehicle-free, although the Volusia County Council didn’t make any decisions on that for Wolfond’s development or any others.
“Clearly, in discussions with investors that’s still a priority and high on the wish list,” Wolfond said. “It’s important for safety and comfort of the guests.”
Everything from floor plans to landscaping is being locked in now. In the spring, two model guest rooms will be built at a warehouse in Orlando to work out details, Ott said.
Interior design is also well underway for the hotel’s grand lobby, and it’ll blend the Hard Rock’s emphasis on music and Daytona’s racing heritage. Bayshore promotional material says the lobby will have terrazzo flooring and “be an uber-hip entrance to the Hard Rock Hotel and Residences Daytona Beach … designed to visually awe as it greets guests when they arrive.” The lobby will have a 45-foot-tall glass wall that looks out to a pool and beach, and include “yacht influenced woodwork.”
The hotel also will include a gastro lounge that will serve both food and drinks. Promotional material states “the stylish gastro lounge is destined to be the favorite of taste makers and hipsters, bohemians and entrepreneurs.” Floor-to-ceiling windows will frame the ocean side of the lounge, and there will also be an open-air patio overlooking the ocean.
The huge glass walls in the lounge and lobby won’t create hot, blinding spaces with all the sunlight pouring in, Ott said. The type of glass on the building will minimize the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light that can pass through without compromising the amount of visible light that’s transmitted, he said. Also, motorized shades will be lowered during the hours when the rising sun could be bothersome.
The project, the first of two phases, is also still seeking condo buyers.
“Since we launched our sales and marketing campaign in January this year, we have taken 132 reservations and expect to achieve our goal of 150 reservations by early 2015,” Wolfond said.
Because people with reservations are under no binding commitment to buy, some are expected to drop out, so more than enough were sought for the 107 condos. But Wolfond said he’s confident enough people will ultimately buy because there’s nothing quite like it in the area.
On top of the amenities and quality he’s offering, he said Daytona has “one of the most spectacular beaches I’ve seen.”
Required homeowners association documents will be filed in Tallahassee next month, and Wolfond hopes to start getting people under contract early next year.
Nearly half of the people interested in buying a condo are from the Orlando area, Wolfond noted.
The Hard Rock Daytona condos will have unobstructed ocean views and be located on the top 12 floors of the hotel, starting 176 feet above the sand.
“Our lowest condo will be on the 16th floor,” Wolfond said.
The Hard Rock building will rise 28 stories, reaching 310 feet at its highest point.
The two floors above the condos are reserved for penthouses. The condos will range in price from below $300,000 to more than $2 million.
Wolfond has recently acquired another oceanfront site in Daytona Beach Shores that he said will likely become residential condos “more middle of the road.”
With the goal of boosting small businesses and attracting local shoppers, Plaza Del Sol unveiled El Mercado in Kissimmee on Wednesday.
Formally the Osceola Square Mall, Plaza Del Sol holds 34 local businesses under the look of a Latin village marketplace. Each storefront is painted in a different color, with decorative windows mounted above for the appearance of the shop’s “second floor” and all standing under a painted sunny sky. At least 75 percent of the business owners are from Osceola County, according to Plaza Del Sol officials, and sell products from bathing suits and clothing to services like computer repair.
“You create this Mercado, which is a virtual anchor, and it allows tenants to come in, vendors to come in, small business people, and it gives them all the support that they need to start their own businesses, and, eventually, they migrate up to larger tenants,” said Andrew Brown, president of Bayshore Capital from Toronto, Canada and proprietor of the mall.
Brown and others from Bayshore Capital bought the property about a year and a half ago. Looking at local demographics to identify the mall’s clientele, Brown quickly saw the percentage and growth of the Hispanic population in the county, and decided to use Plaza Del Sol to highlight and support that population. El Mercado was designed to directly support the entrepreneurial spirit of Osceola’s population by providing smaller storefronts at cheaper rates to get new businesses started in the mall.
Providing a space exclusively for small, local businesses is a new concept for many malls in the United States. Brown said that he’s only seen six other malls in the country catering to small business through rent and space, and Plaza Del Sol is the first in Osceola to offer it.
“It’s an international concept with a Latin theme. We tried to recreate the village, like in Spain, like in Turkey, those squares where the big businesses and the small businesses both marriage together. This is something that the mainstream is not used to in this country. We’re bringing something, a different kick, for the community to experience something different. To browse around, look around and say, ‘Wow, this is unique,’” said Arturo Adonay, concept developer for El Mercado.
It took Adonay and the rest of the development team almost a year to come up with the first phase of El Mercado. Future developments for this small business concept include expanding El Mercado to the other end of the mall, providing more space for small businesses, scheduling weekly entertainment events on the new stage built at the center of the mall to attract shoppers and adding other local touches such as a family restraint and a Latino-themed grocery store.
El Mercado will hold a public grand opening today from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with entertainment and giveaways accompanying the local shops.