ORLANDO-Harris Rosen, the largest independent hotelier in Central Florida, plans to break ground in October on the 100,000-sf Rosen School of Hospitality Management, the first of its kind in the Southeast.
The $36 million venture is planned on a 30-acre site on International Drive, next to the 1,300-room Omni Rosen and the 850-room Clarion Plaza Hotel, both near the four-million-sf Orange County Convention Center complex.
The hotelier plans to design the school’s curriculum after Cornell University’s pioneer school of hospitality management which Rosen and other executives in his Rosen Hotel Group have attended.
Rosen’s school will have a tentative faculty of 14 directed by a dean. Abraham Pizam, a longtime tourism professor at UCF, is directing the Rosen school’s academic growth path.
Rosen has also received approval from the board of trustees at the 35,000-student University of Central Florida to build UCF a 400-bed dormitory next to the hotel management school. The dormitory would house a portion of the 1,000 students expected to enroll in the school which is offering a bachelor of science degree in hospitality management.
Rosen is a UCF trustee. Board chairman Richard A. Nunis, former chairman of Walt Disney Attractions Co. at Lake Buena Vista, FL supports Rosen in both ventures. Rosen is a former Disney executive in the firm’s California headquarters.
Neither Rosen nor Nunis could be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline to learn development details of both projects. Local brokerage speculation is that the dormitory will be open by fall 2004.
Orlando retail investment brokers who have worked with Rosen on past deals tell GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity the 50-year-old hotelier will be funding the school and the dormitory on his own without financial support from the university.
The school site is north of the Bee Line Expressway near John Young Parkway in south Orlando, about 25 miles from the main UCF campus in east Orange County. Rosen has been planning a 1,500-room convention center-themed hotel nearby for several years.
He has frequently clashed with city and county officials on how best to direct the area’s growth. Rosen orchestrated a highly publicized local effort in 2001 to save the Orlando Magic franchise when owner Rich DeVos threatened to either sell the National Basketball Association franchise or move it to another city.