A condo-hotel project is in the works along Fort Lauderdale's iconic Las Olas Boulevard — only the second hotel in decades and a sign of growing interest in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
An affiliate of Kolter Group — KG Las Olas Trustee LLC — this week bought a 38,325-square-foot parcel at 100 E. Las Olas Blvd. for $17.25 million and will develop it into a condo-hotel, a company official said Thursday.
The project is in the preliminary design phase, said James Hansen, vice president sales and marketing for Kolter Hospitality, the West Palm Beach company's hotel management and operations division.
"It's a great site," close to the riverfront as well as dining, shopping and entertainment, Hansen said. "We own it now, and we've been champing at it for about six months."
The full scope of the project, such as the height and number of rooms and condos, has not been determined, Hansen said.
The first floor, however, is likely to have retail and restaurant space similar to Kolter's 200-room Hyatt Place Boca Raton under construction, Hansen said. Parking will be on site.
The 13-story Hyatt Place at 120 E. Palmetto Park Road — Boca's first downtown hotel — is slated to open in summer 2016.
Kolter will meet in coming weeks with an existing hotel partner in hopes of finalzing a brand for the Las Olas Boulevard site, Hansen said.
"It's going to be a huge project and a signature one for downtown Fort Lauderdale," he said.
In South Florida, Kolter Hospitality also operates Hyatt Place Fort Lauderdale 17th Street Convention Center, Hyatt Place West Palm Beach, Hyatt Place Delray Beach and Hilton Garden Inn Palm Beach Gardens.
Kolter Group also has a 255-room Westin property under development in Sarasota that's expected to open sometime in 2016, Hansen said. It's also eyeing at least two other hotel projects in South Florida.
The new Fort Lauderdale hotel would spell competition for the 220-room historic Riverside Hotel, the sole hotel along Las Olas Boulevard. The Riverside opened its doors as the Champ Carr Hotel in 1936.
Over the decades, the Riverside, at 620 E. Las Olas Blvd., has added rooms and meeting space to meet growing demand. Last year, the property completed a soft renovation of its rooms and public spaces, including new furnishings and revamped restrooms in its older rooms.
Kolter officials view downtown Fort Lauderdale as an untapped hotel market and say the new hotel would offer business and leisure travelers more options in walking distance of hot spots.
Several other developers also are tapping downtown Fort Lauderdale and its outskirts for condo and hotel projects.
Among them is Wurzak Hotel Group of Philadelphia, which plans a 323-room Tribute Portfolio and Element hotel on a former funeral home site at 299 N. Federal Highway. The 24-story dual-branded hotel project is set to break ground this fall for opening in spring 2017.
Fort Lauderdale-based Luckey's Management plans to begin construction this year on a 108-room Fairfield Inn & Suites at 30. S. Federal Highway, next to the Starbucks Coffee on the corner of Broward Boulevard.