JW Marriott with rooftop garden to anchor downtown Orlando convention center
It looks like downtown Orlando will be getting its luxury hotel and convention center, as promised by developers Albert Socol and Marlene Weiss, according to a report in GrowthSpotter.
The husband-wife heads of Summa Development Group have filed updated renderings with the city naming JW Marriott as the anchor for their 33-story mixed-use tower at Church and Pine streets once slated to include a branch of the Orlando Museum of Art.
The project includes the luxury hotel, a convention center and JW Marriott branded residences — a combination of 102 condominiums and 27 penthouse units over the hotel.
The building design package has been renamed JW Marriott Hotel/Convention Center & Residences, but it closely resembles the original plan presented by lead architect Steve Cavanaugh from DLR Group during the project’s Appearance Review Board courtesy review two years ago.
The skyscraper at 319 E Church St. would rise across from CitiTower, which also was developed by SDG.
The developers received master plan approval for the tower in 2020 but the project was put on hold for a year while they negotiated with the museum to include a downtown branch of the museum with 30,000 square feet of new gallery space highlighted by the world’s first rooftop garden featuring works by world-famous artist Dale Chihuly.
The project had been spearheaded by former museum director Aaron De Groft, who was fired in July amid the scandal over the authenticity of paintings by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and an FBI raid on the museum in June.
But while the museum branch is gone, the brightly colored rooftop garden remains in the plan as an outdoor event space for the hotel on the roofof the 9th-story podium of the building, a space that was largely unused in the original building design.
Marc McMurrin, President & CEO of the Ginsburg Family Foundation, said that Ginsburg has a personal relationship with Dale Chihuly. Now that he and the foundation are no longer involved, it’s unlikely the garden would include pieces from the artist.
Board OKs RoseArts master plan
Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board unanimously approved the first phase master plan for Westside Capital Group’s RoseArts District despite concerns among board members about the location of the affordable housing and its distance from public transit.
Phase 1 of the $1 billion redevelopment of the former Lake Orlando golf course consists of four apartment buildings with a total of nearly 1,600 dwelling units and up to 150,000 square feet of retail space. The developer agreed to set aside 160 residential units as affordable housing, but instead of spreading them evenly among the four residential buildings, the developer opted to group them all in one building — the only one that doesn’t have retail uses on the ground floor.
Attorney Rebecca Wilson with Lowndes said because the developer agreed to reduce the average income limits for eligible renters, the project could qualify for Low Income Housing Tax Credits or other types of alternative financing. The city staff agreed to bundle the affordable units into the southernmost building to explore those options.
But some board members were critical of placing the affordable units in the building furthest from the LYNX Rosemont Superstop on Cinderlane Parkway. The developer agreement approved by City Council requires a transit circulator within the community during Phase 2 that would link to the transit station.
“I do understand that the future phases will accommodate for transit,” Morgan Lea said. “But in the interim, I do think it’s a bit unfair to expect people who have affordable housing needs to just grin and bear it and walk to the farthest place where they can access it if they need it.”
The case will head to City Council on Sept. 12 for final approval.
Article on Orlando Sentinel