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Controversial proposed Henderson Hotel moves forward after long Winter Park meeting

Controversial proposed Henderson Hotel moves forward after long Winter Park meeting

A proposed lakeside hotel project in Winter Park — a posh city north of Orlando — took an important step toward construction early on Jan. 6. 

Winter Park's planning and zoning board gave the green light in a 4-3 vote to the luxury Henderson Hotel project to move ahead to city commission. The meeting wrapped up early Jan. 6 after starting at 6 p.m. on Jan. 5. Meeting attendees spoke out in favor and against the project, which secured a whopping 575 signed letters of support from local residents. 

New construction is an important driver of the local economy, generating both temporary and permanent jobs, as well as bringing new homes into the market to support a growing population and bringing new commercial space to support area businesses.

Winter Park's city commission will need to vote in favor in two separate readings before the development team of the five-story, 132-room Henderson Hotel at 250 Killarney Drive can seek building permits. City commission will hold its first reading on Jan. 27 and its second on Feb. 10. The development team includes Adam Wonus, owner of Lake Mary-based Atrium Management Co., and Eric Holm, CEO of Winter Park-based Golden Corral.

That said, it may take a year before the development team can secure building permits if the project is approved in February, Wonus told OBJ. That would mean construction may start in late 2021 before wrapping up around mid-2023. 

No builder has been selected for the project. However, Orlando-based Baker Barrios Architects Inc. is the project architect, and Raleigh, North Carolina-based Kimley-Horn + Associates Inc. is the project engineer. 

"It's a great thing," Wonus said of the planning and zoning approval. "Now we have to push through to the finish." 

The proposed roughly $50 million Henderson Hotel will have a Victorian style and will be the only lakefront hotel in Winter Park. The hotel itself is named after the Henderson family, who owned and operated a property adjacent to the proposed hotel site known as the Lake Shore Motel. 

The developers are under contract to buy the land for the project site, which currently includes a motel, office space and homes. 

Ultimately, the project may become the first LEED-certified, ground-up construction project in Winter Park history. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a building certification program to promote energy-efficient, eco-friendly structures. In addition, the project will add more trees to the site and result in a cleanup of Lake Killarney, he said. A 1-acre public park will also be part of the project. 

Underserved market 

The Winter Park hotel market is prime for more lodging development — especially as it continues to benefit from the area's growing population and tourist visitation. 

"The Winter Park hotel market has always been underserved because of the lack of the availability of land. Given Winter Park’s well-deserved upscale reputation, there was always a missing link in the market as there were no upscale full-service hotels," previously said Paul Sexton, vice president with HREC in Orlando, who is not involved in the project. "That changed in 2013 with the opening of The Alfond Inn, which immediately became an icon in the market." 

Now, the Henderson Hotel will fill another niche in the market: a lakefront hotel, Sexton added. "Once built, the Henderson will be the go-to place for weddings, family reunions and the like on the weekends, and they will find plenty of business related demand during the week."  

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