Ripple effect of Hard Rock, Brown & Brown, Protogroup projects already being felt

Efforts to revitalize Daytona Beach’s blighted beachside and historic downtown are already getting a boost from a trio of high-profile developments, local observers say.

The new Hard Rock Hotel on A1A, which opened March 1, has already sparked interest in the area from other hotel developers.

So has Protogroup’s Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums complex also going up along A1A, at the east end of Oakridge Boulevard.

Meanwhile insurance giant Brown & Brown Inc.’s planned 10-story headquarters on Beach Street has also resulted in the sale of two neighboring properties.

Since November, Tim Davis of SVN Alliance Commercial Real Estate Advisors said he has had five different developers from south and west Florida contact him to take them on tours of the area’s beachside.

“The first thing they want to see is the Hard Rock, where it’s at (progress-wise), its proximity to the Ocean Center (convention center) and what opportunities are available (for potential hotel and/or condominium projects),” Davis said.

Of the Hard Rock, Davis said, “They want to see it, walk through it and see the level of quality.”

The reason has nothing to do with whether they are rock music fans.

What’s got them intrigued, according to Davis, is the fact that the Hard Rock is an upscale, four-star-level resort in an area generally not known for high-end hotels, with a few exceptions.

The Hard Rock is on the site of the former Desert Inn, a rundown 1950s-era hotel described a few years ago by TripAdvisor as one of the nation’s dirtiest hotels.

Converting it into a Hard Rock was a $40 million gamble by local developer Summit Hospitality Management Group, whose managing partner Abbas Abdulhussein described in an interview last year as a “flight to quality.”

Abdulhussein explained his belief that given the option, there would be enough visitors and even locals willing to pay a little extra than the current average daily room rate for the Daytona Beach area to stay in a higher-end hotel like the Hard Rock.

So far, that appears to be the case, says Davis, who recently stopped by the Hard Rock with friends for a late night drink and was pleasantly surprised to see it bustling with guests.

“We were at the bar and I pulled up and there were no rooms available that night,” Davis said of the 200-room Hard Rock.

Also making a strong impression on the visiting developers that Davis took on tours of the area was Protogroup’s planned 501-room Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums project.

The massive complex, upon completion, will include two towers, one 31 stories high, the other 28, both of which will be the tallest in Daytona Beach. With an estimated project cost of $192 million, it is also believed to be the most expensive hotel/condo project ever to be developed in Daytona Beach.

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