Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Henderson Hotel would be good for Winter Park

Henderson Hotel would be good for Winter Park


The proposed Henderson Hotel, a landmark destination that would boost Winter Park’s environment, economy and quality of life, would be a huge win for our community. We urge the Winter Park City Commission to consider this great opportunity and not fall victim to an unsubstantiated argument that “development,” by definition, is bad.

The triple bottom line of environment, economy and quality of life — along with the undeniable advantage of enhancing the 17-92 corridor — is why the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, with the unanimous backing of its Board of Directors, is supporting it.

We ask the City Commission to approve it, along with the req-uisite amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Adam Wonus, Atrium Management Co. partner, is well-known for his redevelopment of Orlando’s Milk District and is a recipient of the Orlando Business Journal Community Impact Award. Atrium leases and manages roughly 2.4 million square feet of property in Florida. Wonus is one of the principals of Winter Park Historic Hotels, LLC, the developer of the Henderson Hotel project.

Let’s first look at the extraordinary moves Wonus has made to ensure the hotel would enhance the quality of the ecosystem on 17-92. He is seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, which would ensure that the hotel is designed with improvements to energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions and more in mind.

Wonus has also voluntarily committed to:

Providing an exfiltration system to relieve the adjacent Lake Killarney shoreline of debris and litter

Building a 1.5-acre park featuring superior and mature plants

Replacing invasive plant species to renew the lake’s shoreline

Protecting adjacent properties by ending cut-through traffic from the 17-92 corridor, long considered a nuisance.

He is also building underground parking, a move that most developers avoid as it is much more costly and can cut deeply into profits.

The Henderson Hotel would also provide an additional high-ti-er hotel in Winter Park that could accommodate the growing needs of residents, guests and businesses by offering upscale lakeside lodging, venue and meeting space, spa services and dining. It would be an ideal place for weddings, showers, birth-day and retirement parties, high school traditions and more.

Wonus has created a project that would stimulate our economy when recovery needs are dire, adding $20 million in incremental tax base to our city coffers. The hotel would also boost the value of adjacent properties, as The Alfond Inn has done for its surroundings. And it would create hundreds of jobs.

Amending Winter Park’s Comprehensive Plan is not unprecedented. Without just such an amendment, we would not have marquee projects like the Winter Park Health Foundation’s Center for Health and Wellbeing and the Howell Branch Pre-serve.

A question for the community and specifically the Winter Park City Commission to consider is: if not the Henderson Hotel, then what? The land is prime real estate and it is doubtful that another developer would provide all of the environmental and other enhancements that Winter Park Historic Hotels, LLC, and Wonus have added.

I ask city commissioners to consider if they want to be remembered for denying a great opportunity that could create tremendous economic stimulus to a community that is hurting. Or do they want to leave a meaningful legacy?

Too often, the word “development” leads to a trigger response of “no,” which stunts good growth.

Let’s not let that happen here.

Betsy Gardner Eckbert is President and CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce.

Blog Home