BILOXI, MS-Presidian Cos. Ltd. is changing strategy on the third phase of its 18-acre Ocean Club Biloxi high rise. Rather than building another 15-story condominium tower, the San Antonio developer will build a $20-million, 160-key Cambria Suites in its place.

“We have an oral okay on our application and they’re doing a little vetting on the site to make sure it’s the right height above the flood zone. We anticipate we’ll have the franchise in hand in about six weeks,” says Drake Leddy, Presidian’s president.

The project is anticipated to break ground in early 2009, with completion coming in 12 to 15 months. The hotel’s location at 2060 Beach Blvd. will be the first in Mississippi to carry the Cambria Suites flag, a brand of Silver Springs, MD-based Choice Hotels International Inc. Presidian will manage the asset upon completion.

Leddy tells that an overbuilt condominium market prompted the move from residential to hospitality space. The project’s first phase, the 120-unit Baymont Tower, was completed in the middle of 2007 and is sold out. The sister structure, Gulf Shore Tower, was just completed. “We came into 2008 with 48 of the 120 units unsold,” Leddy says. With sales slowing to a crawl, it made more sense to plan a hotel for the third phase.

“We would have had to wait forever to build more if we were to have stuck with our original plan of three condominium towers,” Leddy explains. He says the other advantage by adding a hotel is a constant on-site staff to manage pools and other amenities, which wouldn’t have been the case with a straight condo project.

Leddy says the remaining Ocean Club Biloxi land, about 12 acres, will be dedicated to a 20-story tower called Ocean Club, which will be a combination of residences and hotel. There is also enough room for a restaurant pad. Construction dates have not been unveiled for the Cambria Suites or the condo hotel.

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