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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

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

The 14-story hotel opened in 2006 and is located just off Interstate 4 and is convenient to several businesses and public buildings, as well as the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre and Amway Arena. Fitchburg, WI-based S&L Hospitality, which bought the hotel in April in a $21-million bankruptcy sale, will continue to manage the hotel under a license agreement with an IHG-affiliated company.

Gina LaBarre, vice president of Crowne Plaza brand management, notes that Orlando is the nation’s second-fastest-growing metropolitan area, adding that the hotel will be able to accommodate small and medium-sized meetings within the city’s central business district. “We feel the time is right for us to expand our distribution in Orlando,” LaBarre stated in a release.

The Crowne Plaza Orlando-Downtown will have 50 king suites and one presidential suite, along with 6,500 sf of meeting space. Other amenities include a fitness center, business center, wireless high-speed Internet access throughout the premises, and the District Five Restaurant and Lounge.

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

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