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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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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 hotels.com 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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