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ORLANDO-The hospitality industry may be in a tailspin but that’s not evident at future bookings logged by the 1,400-room Opryland Hotel, still under construction and expected to open in first quarter 2001.

The hotel confirms it has booked 870,000 room nights through 2011–10 years down the road. At a daily room rate range of $250 to $450, the estimated value of those bookings could be $30 million, area brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

The location of Opryland Hotel; another 360-room Emerald Tower boutique-style hotel owned by Opryland; and an adjacent 178,000-sf convention center–all expected to open in the first quarter–are expected to be the catalyst in attracting more than an estimated $1 billion worth of new commercial, retail and hospitality ventures to the once barren southwest corner of International Drive South and Osceola Parkway in neighboring Osceola County.

“The time has arrived for that submarket,” Dean Fritchen, senior associate, Arvida Realty Services Inc., tells GlobeSt.com. “It will be a gold mine in 10 years.”

The Opryland undertaking is owned by Nashville, TN-based Opryland Hospitality Group. The Osceola County location is 15 miles from Walt Disney World’s 30,000-acre empire and five miles south of the four million-sf Orange County Convention Center.

How Opryland’s 178,000-sf convention center will affect bookings at the county’s $750-million expanded hall remains an answered question among tourist officials and hoteliers.

“It may not affect the county’s operations at all if the Opryland people use their convention center almost exclusively for corporate-related meetings and events,” an investor in an International Drive hotel tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity. “After all, 178,000 sf of meeting space can’t be compared to three million sf of exhibit and meeting space that the county has.”

Opryland officials in Nashville couldn’t be reached by GlobeSt.com at publication deadline to learn the estimated value of the company’s total developments in metro Orlando. But area construction industry estimators tell GlobeSt.com that both the 1,400-room hotel and the 360-room hotel are being built at an estimated $200 per sf. That would put the 1,400-room hotel at a hard construction cost of $280 million and the 360-room hotel, which will actually be part of the larger hotel, at $72 million.

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