More hotels scheduled to open in East County.
Despite a dip in occupancy rates, East County continues to experience growth in its hotel industry.
The company I75-SR64 Development Inc. has submitted plans to Manatee County for a two-hotel and retail development at the southwest corner of Interstate 75 and State Road 64.
Those hotels represent another 200 rooms and are part of a five-tenant shopping strip immediately south and west of the Wendy’s and Tusker Wash at 65th Court East.
The project is going forward even though the hotel industry STR report (formerly known as Smith Travel Research) shows occupancy for East County hotels is down 3.6% year to date, and 10.3% for the past three months.
Rob Ferguson, corporate director of sales for Even Hotel Sarasota-Lakewood Ranch and Fairfield Inn and Suites Lakewood Ranch, said more business, homes and special events will have to come to the area before further hotel expansion makes sense.
Even so, new projects forge ahead.
I75-SR64 Development Inc. representative John Cavoli, owner of Cavoli Engineering Inc., said his project is going through the process to rezone the land from its agricultural designation to allow a planned mixed-use development.
Although the plans submitted indicate the hotel will be a Wisdom Hotel brand, Cavoli said nothing is finalized yet.
“This is very early in the process,” Cavoli said. “They haven’t decided about brands.”
He estimated the proposal would go to public hearing for the rezoning in December or January.
The commercial strip includes up to five tenants, each ranging from 1,300 to 1,800 square feet for a total of 7,500 square feet.
Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said seven hotels or resorts have opened, are under construction in the past year or are about to break ground in Manatee County. Those projects, representing about 800 rooms, will expand the county’s short-term rental pool to about 9,200 rooms, a growth rate of 8.7% in just a year’s time. Five years ago, there were 6,500 short-term rental rooms in the county.
Sarasota-based hotel developer Steve Mullen, of Floridays Development Co., said the area’s beaches, University Town Center shopping district, sports tourism and the future addition of Mote Marine Laboratory’s aquarium at Nathan Benderson Park makes it attractive for hotels.
Also coming to East County is the WoodSpring Suites, slated for Tara at the southwest corner of I-75 and State Road 70. It offers an extended-stay concept that could appeal to individuals with homes under construction or looking to explore the area, he said.
Falcione said the bureau generally does not comment on whether there’s a need for more hotels in the area, except for the need for a hotel attached to the Bradenton Area Convention Center.