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Week-by-week, Protogroup tower rises on Daytona Beach horizon

DAYTONA BEACH — If you’ve noticed that the 28-story South Tower of Protogroup’s planned 501-room Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums seems to be growing by the week, you’re exactly right.

“We’re working at a pace of about a week per floor,” Mike Zehe, general superintendent of the mammoth construction site at the intersection of State Road A1A and Oakridge Boulevard.

“This morning, we just poured the 23rd (floor) deck. It tops out at 28,” added Zehe of Yates Construction, the project’s general contractor. “Right now, we’re in the first sequence in a two-sequence deck for the 23rd level. We’ll top off the building by the end of November.”

When it’s completed in 2020, the Convention Hotel & Condominiums’ taller North Tower will rise to 380 feet, making it the tallest building in Volusia and Flagler counties. To the South, the second tower will rise to 330 feet. With a price tag of $192 million, the project also will be the most expensive hotel/condo development in the area’s history.

Earlier this month, construction progress was reported to be on-time for the projected completion dates, August 2019 for the 28-story South Tower and sometime in 2020 for the 31-story North Tower, said Alexey Lysich, vice president of Protogroup, the Palm Coast-based, family-run company whose Russian owners are developing the property.

Despite a rainy summer, Lysich said that the absence of hurricanes or other tropical storms has enabled construction crews to stay on schedule.

“We are lucky this year with the hurricanes, unlike two years before,” Lysich said. “Everything is going very smooth.”

Zehe, who supervises a crew of roughly 200 tradesmen at work on the South Tower and another 20 starting prep work on the North Tower, said that crews on Friday will begin “dry-in” work on the South Tower’s 12th-floor mid-rise, a process that enables interior work to begin.

Outside utilities are scheduled to be brought in by November, he said.

Also this week, a tower crane will be going up on the site of the North Tower, where work on the foundation will begin on Thursday, Zehe said.

“We should start going vertical on the North Tower 60 days after Oct. 1,” Zehe said.

Zehe also reports that the weather has been cooperative for construction progress.

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Two Daytona-area hotels listed among world’s best

DAYTONA BEACH — Two area hotels have been honored by U.S. News & World Report with spots on the publication’s 2018 list of Best Hotels, a worldwide evaluation that includes more than 24,000 luxury hotels across the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Bermuda.

Among the statewide rankings, the Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores placed at No. 153 among rankings of 293 Florida hotels. On the same list, the 744-room Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort was ranked at No. 239.

The Shores Resort also received a silver badge to denote its finish in the top 30 percent of ranked hotels for a particular destination. Among U.S. News city hotel lists for 2018, the Shores and the Hilton, in that order, were the only two hotels to make the list for Daytona Beach.

“It’s exciting,” said Rich Byrd, general manager of the 212-room Shores Resort. “Our team has worked hard for that and we have made a lot of changes to our service levels here. We’re rated as a four-diamond resort by AAA, but we train our staff at a five-diamond level and they work very hard to achieve that.”

With new properties such as the Delta Hotel by Marriott in Daytona Beach Shores and the Hard Rock Hotel in Daytona Beach being added to the landscape, the area is poised to potentially add more hotels to the U.S. News list in coming years, said Jim Berkley, general manager of the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort.

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Officials: Daytona Hard Rock on track for February opening

DAYTONA BEACH — The World’s Most Famous Beach could be jumping to the sounds of the long-awaited Hard Rock Hotel as soon as this coming Valentine’s Day.

That is the tentative target opening date for the new oceanfront resort under construction on the site of the former Desert Inn at 918 N. Atlantic Ave.

While the exterior still looks unfinished to passersby along S.R. A1A, hotel officials who recently met with The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Editorial Board, said the inside of the planned 200-room hotel is “very close” to being finished.

The hotel has already begun accepting reservations on its website, although March 1 is the first day rooms are currently available for booking.

“We can’t share a specific opening date right now … but it could be as early as Feb. 14,” said Kevin Hines, the hotel’s general manager. He added that the opening will definitely be in “early 2018.”

‘ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC’

Hines and Susan Keaveney, the hotel’s director of marketing, said the rock music-themed hotel, when it finally opens, will be unlike anything the Daytona Beach area has ever seen.

“It’s spectacular. It is going to be a four-diamond hotel,” said Keaveney, formerly director of marketing for The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores, the area’s only AAA Auto Club’s four-diamond-rated hotel.

In keeping with the Hard Rock’s other locations, the Daytona Beach hotel, which will be just the 25th internationally and fourth in Florida, will be chock full of luxury amenities, all with a twist that incorporates music, both in its decor as well as in its offering of live music several days a week throughout the year.

“The brand is all about music,” said Keaveney, who along with Hines, wore a guitar-shaped pin bearing the words “Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.” Hard Rock pins are collectible items only available for purchase on-site at the hotels.

“People travel all over the world just to get a pin — it’s not available online,” Hines said.

The hotel will also have displays of rock music memorabilia, some possibly with a local connection, said Hines and Keaveney.

“It will literally be an on-site music museum,” Hines said. “That’s one of the draws of the Hard Rock.”

When asked if the memorabila could be related to the Allman Brothers, the legendary Southern rock band whose founding leaders were from Daytona Beach, or other Florida rockers such as Lynrd Skynrd or Tom Petty, Hines said, “We like to keep it as a surprise (but) they would seem like obvious choices.”

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