“When OUC moved out of this building, I wasn’t certain it could be renovated for new use,” Dyer said. “I had a feeling it would be torn down.”
On Tuesday, Dyer was more than happy to be proven wrong on that count. He took part in a dedication ceremony in front of the building at 500 S. Orange Ave. in the heart of downtown, where he joined GDC Properties President William Ingraham to welcome in the property gearing up to make use of the building: the new Aloft Orlando Downtown Hotel.
What once housed OUC will now offer something dramatically different: 118 Aloft guest rooms, a Wxyz bar with cocktails and music, a Re:mix lounge providing a quiet space for guests, and more than 5,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space.
“This project took a long time coming, and took a lot of work by a lot of talented people,” Ingraham said. “It will be unlike anything in Orlando today.”
Aloft Hotels is being billed as a modern hospitality center with a loft-inspired design, in guestrooms with spacious nine-foot-high ceilings, platform beds, and walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads.
“We are extremely pleased to tap into downtown Orlando with this exciting new project,” Ingraham said. “We want to give thanks to the city of Orlando and Mayor Dyer for their support.”
The mayor said he was thrilled to have such an exciting new project coming to the city, one he was certain would help revitalize the downtown.
“I’m so pleased to be here to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Aloft in one of our historic buildings,” Dyer said. This project will also help bring more jobs to the city, he added.
“This is another job creator here in the city, with 150 to 200 construction jobs and then 30 permanent jobs at the hotel,” he said.
The hotel, expected to open in 2013, will be right across the street from the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Dyer noted, and in addition, “SunRail is stopping just a couple of blocks from here.” The SunRail commuter rail line will run from Debary in Volusia County to downtown Orlando, and then on to Poinciana.
That should help make this corner of Orange Avenue a hub for new excitement and activity, the mayor predicted.
Ingraham agreed, saying this project would be “energizing Orlando with its hippest new hotel, the Afloft grand hotel.” He predicted it would be particularly appealing to “those who are tech savy and plugged into the city all around town.”
Rich Maladecki, the president of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, said this would be an important addition to the region’s hospitality and tourism industry.
“We all know Orlando is the number one destination in the entire world,” Maladecki said. This hotel, he added, will be an innovative new project that gives downtown a major shot in the arm.
“Some eight to ten years ago, Mayor Dyer said me, ‘Rich, you wait, we’re going to have a renaissance in downtown Orlando,” Maladecki said. “Now, we are proud that the Aflort brand is coming to Central Florida. We want to welcome the owners, the developers, and of course the future guests coming here.”
Alfort Orlando Downtown will have 30 king guestrooms, 26 king conference suites, 14 king conference guestrooms, and 15 double queen guestrooms.
It will also offer full catering services in partnership with top Central Florida off-site caterers, and there will even be a pool in the lounge.
They’re even pet-friendly, with the slogan “Animals are Fun” prominently displayed in the hotel’s advertising. The program for dogs under 40 pounds offers an Aloft-branded bed and bowl for the guests’ pet, and complimentary treats and toys.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.