Plantation, Fla., located in the center of Broward County, has aspirations of being more than an extension of Fort Lauderdale, which is located about 8 miles to the east. Backing this push is Everwood Hospitality Partners, a hotel owner and developer that recently acquired the 263-suite Sheraton Suites Plantation. This destination hotel currently supports Plantation Walk, a mixed-use development opening in stages through 2019 with more than half a million square feet of business and retail space backed up by a fleet of residential units.
Amit Govin and Amit Patel, both principals at Everwood, are the minds behind the Sheraton’s positioning. Both Amits are fed up with the tunnel vision many travelers have with respect to Florida, and want to drive traffic to oft-overlooked destinations such as Plantation. This was the motivation behind their purchase of the Sheraton Suites, which they acquired for $24.66 million from PHF Plantation, an affiliate of San Francisco’s Fillmore Capital Partners, earlier this year.
The big draw for Plantation, Govin said, is the opening of the mixed-use Plantation Walk development. The $300-million project, previously known as the Plantation Fashion Mall, will consist of 230,000 square feet of retail space, 260,000 square feet of business space and 700 multifamily units. The final stage of the project is expected to be complete in early 2019, and when it does it’s going to require a hotel to drive traffic to the local area and serve as an anchor. Everwood wants the Sheraton Suites to serve as that hotel.
“We like this area and its proximity to Fort Lauderdale,” Govin said. “It’s a big market with great transportation, and we saw an opportunity. Being an anchor in this kind of very large development is huge. The retail is big for guests, and it serves as a competitive advantage.”
Build it Up
Everwood scooped up the existing Sheraton Suites after the hotel’s previous management completed a $4.6-million renovation, which it undertook to update the hotel’s guestrooms and shore up its durability in the event of future hurricanes. As its new owner, Everwood is investing a further $10 million into the hotel, which Patel said will serve to build upon the previous project and includes moving the hotel’s primary entrance from the east side of the building to the west to coincide with the new design of Plantation Walk.
“We have plans for the first stage of the lobby and the porte cochere to be completed by October of this year, then we’ll enter the design phase for the rest of the guestrooms,” Patel said. “We’re looking to complete all of this by mid-2019.”
Govin said Everwood used bridge financing to bring the project to fruition, but Patel said the team encountered unexpected challenges in the closing process of the renovations. Legacy easements from a decrepit, crumbling mall adjacent to the property proved more laborious to navigate than initially expected, while staging agreements and developing a parking scheme that worked with the developers of Plantation Walk also initially slowed the development.
“We also ran into title issues, and new challenges seemed to pop up each day, but ultimately we got through it,” Patel said.
“A three-party closing process between us, the seller and the mixed-use development added to the complexity,” Govin said. “We’re the only hotel in this development, and there is nothing else planned for it in the immediate future, so it was all worth it.”
The Sheraton Name
Marriott International has recently made moves to eliminate underperforming Sheraton hotels from its portfolio, or convert them into other brands to improve efficiency. Govin said he has noticed an effort by Marriott to remove older Sheratons from its system that have issues with deferred maintenance, but he also said the brand is something he is proud to be attached to and he's excited to get the Plantation property up and running.
“Sheraton and Marriott are great operating partners, and we found our mixed-use environment will draw healthy demand,” he said. “We’re not too concerned about any brand advantage or disadvantage when looking at this property, but overall we’re very optimistic going forward.”
In addressing the growing local area, Patel said the South Florida hotel market is in a state of expansion, particularly in secondary and tertiary markets outside of Orlando and Fort Lauderdale. Govin referred to this as a double-edged sword.
“It’s a good thing these markets are growing, but we also see other well-positioned developers moving into the market,” he said. “We feel good about our investment here. It’s an amenity that can’t be replicated very easily.”