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ORLANDO-After a sluggish start this year, the hospitality development pace in metro Orlando is picking up as Fairfield Resorts Inc. contracts with foreign-owned Bonnett Creek Venture Ltd. to buy 46 prime acres at Bonnet Creek Resort, almost in Walt Disney World’s backyard.

Fairfield plans to develop 744 timeshare units by 2004. Construction is slated to start in 2003. Another 350 units are on the drawing board on a second adjoining 12-acre parcel on which Fairfield holds a purchase option.

The parties didn’t disclose the contract price in a prepared statement. But area land brokers intimate with the Disney submarket in Lake Buena Vista, FL tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity Fairfield is expected to pay at least $300,000 per acre ($6.89 per sf) or $13.8 million for the 46 acres.

If Fairfield goes through later on the 12-acre buy at about the same price, the company’s total investment is estimated at $17.4 million. That would make the estimated development cost of the 1,094 timeshares $15,904 per unit. Area timeshare retail sales range from $10,000 to $25,000 per unit for a one-week annual ownership deed.

Regardless of what Fairfield pays for the dirt, hospitality industry brokers tell GlobeSt.com the former Little Rock, AR-based company appears to have beaten the local herd in capturing a trophy location on which to build a new wave of product.

The site is between Interstate 4 and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. To reach the 480-acre Bonnet Creek Resort, guests must use Buena Vista Drive which crosses Disney property, a strategic plus for Fairfield, brokers tell GlobeSt.com.

Fairfield, owned by New York-based Cendant Corp. and an Orlando corporate fixture since 1998, boasts it is the largest timeshare development and marketing company in the world with 452,000 unit owners at 40 resort destinations in 12 states and the Bahamas.

In the Orlando-Daytona region, the company has 900 units. Fairfield has started construction on a second tower at Fairfield Ocean Walk, Daytona Beach, that will add 280 units to the existing 124 units.

In Central Florida, the company’s four resorts are Fairfield Orlando at Cypress Palms, Fairfield Orlando at Star Island, Orlando International Resort Club and Fairfield Daytona Beach at Ocean Walk.

Fairfield president/CEO Franz S. Hanning says in a prepared statement 50,000 families stayed at Fairfield properties in Orlando last year; another 100,000 families bought Fairfield vacation papckages with Orlando-area destinations.

“Vacationing in Orlando is an American tradition and growing our presence here is a top priority,” Hanning says.

Disney has 2,000 timeshare units and 22,000 hotel rooms at 19 Lake Buena Vista properties. The park’s new 150-unit Beach Club Villas timeshare property is scheduled to open July 1.

At the same time, Disney is completing 192 new units at the former 800-room, five-year-old Disney Institute Resort. Disney’s five-year-old, 536-unit Boardwalk Villas is reported to be near sellout at $11,000 per week to $150,000 per month prices.

Based on Orange County property appraiser records, Bonnett Creek Venture Ltd.’s principals are World Union-Cayman Ltd. of Grand Cayman Island and Orlando-based Brooksville Development Co. Brooksville’s development operations are headed by senior vice president Dan Paris, a longtime Orlando area developer.

A private unidentified estate with Houston connections is also a principal in Bonnett Creek Venture Ltd., according to published reports that have not been denied.

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