University trustees were briefed on a project for an upscale hotel and conference center on campus Wednesday, with the timeline set for an opening in two years, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
UCF considered and included the idea in concepts of future projects but has only recently chosen to move forward.
“I was not sold on the concept,” said UCF chief financial officer William Merck during a trustees committee meeting. “I was always thinking of it just as using up land to get some revenue. It wasn’t that exciting because the revenue wouldn’t be that great compared to what we give up in land.”
After talks with university faculty complaining on a lack of hotel and conference space for potential job candidates, Merck claims to have opened to the plan.
“It started to get me [thinking], maybe this hotel is really good.”
Construction and operating costs of the estimated 135-room building would not fall under the responsibility of UCF, but under developers KUD International, who would build the hotel and hire the hotel’s operator.
The project aims to be constructed along Alafaya Trail and University Boulevard on existing, open lands.
UCF would share profits and receive rent, estimating a $35 million draw over 60 years with minimal risk. A specific hotel brand, such as UF’s Hilton hotel or USF’s Embassy Suites, has not been planned but guests can expect an average price of $140 for a night’s stay when the hotel opens.
UCF officials expressed clear and thorough oversight when approached with the possibility of guests being charged high rates on game days and orientation days, citing a need not to be tied to financial risk.
“Every little thing matters when you’re trying to recruit at the highest level,” said UCF president John C. Hitt. “We don’t have a really nice hotel that we can feature to put the university in the best light.”
The proposal for approval from the state goes out in November and opening of the boutique hotel may come as early as June 2017, according to Merck.