(Carl Cronan is editor of RealEstateFlorida.)

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ORLANDO, FL-InterContinental Hotels Group says it plans toconvert the 227-room Lexington Orlando CityPlace hotel to theCrowne Plaza Orlando-Downtown. The hotel, which will be the fourthin the Orlando market to carry the upscale flag, is expected toopen sometime in the next month.

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The 14-story hotel opened in 2006 and is located just offInterstate 4 and is convenient to several businesses and publicbuildings, as well as the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre and AmwayArena. Fitchburg, WI-based S&L Hospitality, which bought thehotel in April in a $21-million bankruptcy sale, will continue tomanage the hotel under a license agreement with an IHG-affiliatedcompany.

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Gina LaBarre, vice president of Crowne Plaza brand management,notes that Orlando is the nation's second-fastest-growingmetropolitan area, adding that the hotel will be able toaccommodate small and medium-sized meetings within the city'scentral business district. "We feel the time is right for us toexpand our distribution in Orlando," LaBarre stated in arelease.

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The Crowne Plaza Orlando-Downtown will have 50 king suites andone presidential suite, along with 6,500 sf of meeting space. Otheramenities include a fitness center, business center, wirelesshigh-speed Internet access throughout the premises, and theDistrict Five Restaurant and Lounge.

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British-based IHG, the world's largest hotel operator with 4,000properties, has numerous other conversion projects currently inprogress throughout Florida. The chain also announced this weekthat it will convert the 76-room Heritage Hotel in Downtown St.Petersburg into a Hotel Indigo early next year under a $3-millionrenovation program with the property's owner, Tampa-based BayStarHotel Group.

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