Friday, September 22, 2017

2,400+ Hotel Rooms Planned for Booming West Palm Beach

Tourism is booming in Palm Beach, and so are plans for construction of several of new hotels. Plans are being dusted off for a hotel on Clematis Street, in the heart of downtown. Meanwhile, a new hotel outside the downtown is in the works.

In addition, a controversial plan to build a hotel at the Palm Harbor Marina on the waterfront downtown just won a major legal battle, paving the way for construction of the 8-story, 108-room hotel.

Combined with all other planned or proposed hotels, West Palm Beach could be looking at more than 2,400 hotel rooms opening during the next two to three years.

The timing is good: A record-breaking 7.35 million visitors came to Palm Beach County in 2016, a 5.8 increase over 2015’s level, according to county tourism officials.

The increase marks the eighth consecutive year of tourism growth in the county, according to Discover the Palm Beaches, the county’s official tourism marketing organization.

Downtown, Robert Samuels of Provident Jewelry is reviving plans to build the Hotel Clematis, a 94-room boutique hotel at 335 Clematis Street.

In 2012, Samuels received city approval to build up to 10 stories, but wasn’t able to line up a suitable hotel partner with financing. That’s ready to change with the growth of the downtown and the strong demand by major chains seeking urban locations for their hip boutique brands.

Also helping bolster construction: A recent report showing a big jump in hotel occupancy and room rates. The report showed average daily room rates in West Palm Beach now close to the mid-$200s per night, up from $140 six years ago. Average occupancy also rose to more than 70 percent, up from 47 percent.

Hotel Clematis is designed to have an entrance and elevator on Clematis, allowing diners to go directly to the planned third-floor restaurant and garden terrace overlooking the busy street.

Meanwhile, over at the Palm Harbor Marina, it’s full steam ahead for a long-planned hotel. The marina is at 400 North Flagler Drive.

Plans include a grand ballroom, a trendy restaurant and bar and a rooftop pool. The developer expects the hotel to open by 2019. Although a hotel brand has yet to be selected, the Marriott and Wyndham brands are both in contention.

Other new hotels will include:

• Developers of the old city hall site plan to build a 210-room Autograph Hotel by Marriott, plus 251 apartments, 19,000 square feet of retail and 11,493 square feet of restaurant space. The property is east of Olive Avenue between Banyan Boulevard and Second Street.

• One West Palm, a twin-tower, mixed-use project by Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene. Greene plans to build 201 hotel units, plus 209,405 square feet of office space and 328 apartments. 

• Sunview Companies of Miami plans to build two eight-story hotels along the Rosemary Avenue corridor. A 224-room Indigo Hotel would be at Railroad Avenue, between Third and Fourth streets, while a 218-room Aloft would be on the west side of the block, facing Rosemary Avenue.

• Finally, a group planning to build a 14-story, 150-room Canopy Hotel next to the Two City Plaza condominium is moving forward with building permits.

Investors say hotels are good for downtown businesses, and vice versa.

Having the 400-room Hilton West Palm Beach hotel now open adjacent to the convention center allows the venue to book larger events, which in turn creates greater demand for hotel rooms.

So strong is the success of the Hilton’s first year that The Related Cos. is likely to build another, 200-room Hilton brand next door, according to Ken Himmel, chief executive.

But new hotel plans aren’t limited to downtown West Palm Beach:

Outside of downtown, an investment group wants to build a 160-room hotel along Interstate 95, on vacant land behind Rachel’s Gentlemen’s Club, an upscale strip club at 2905 45th Street.

Last year, as spring training fever heated up with construction of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, they decided to get the 2.7-acre vacant land ready for development, a process that will be completed within six to eight weeks.

The 45th Street hotel marks the second new hotel tied to baseball.

Last month, the Houston Astros paid $6.5 million for one of three towers that make up the Forum office complex at the northeast corner of the boulevard and Congress Avenue. The empty office tower will be transformed into a 197-room hotel.

It will be used by the Astros to house players, coaches and support staff during spring training every January, February and March. The rest of the year, the hotel will be available to the public.

The Astros would like to open their hotel by 2018.

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