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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

ORLANDO, FL-Rosen Hotels & Resorts plans up to $200 million worth of expansion and renovations at six of its local hotels over the next eight years. Low pricing resulting from a slowdown in contractor work put the plan into action sooner.

The bulk of the money will be spent on meeting space additions of 100,000 sf each to the Rosen Plaza and Rosen Centre hotels, along with parking garages and walkways connecting both to the Orange County Convention Center. The expansions are expected to be completed by 2012, after which Rosen Plaza will receive between 400 and 700 new rooms by 2016.

“Meeting planners are always looking for the newest hotel and the newest ballroom in the most convenient, appealing location,” says Harris Rosen, president and COO of Orlando-based Rosen Hotels. “To stay competitive in this business, you’ve got to have your eye on the future, regardless of current economic conditions.”

The economy has resulted in an overall slowdown in the construction industry, allowing developers like Rosen to negotiate more favorable terms than had been available in the last several years. “If we can help those in the building business to continue earning a living, we all come out ahead,” he says.

Over the next three years, a total of 2,700 guest rooms will be refurbished at Rosen’s four Orlando leisure properties: Quality Inn International, Rodeway Inn International, Quality Inn Plaza and Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista. Between $40 million and $50 million is being budgeted for those improvements.

Refurbishments at those four hotels will be aimed at making rooms more comfortable as well as eco-friendly, Rosen says, adding that they will seek approval under the Florida Green Lodging Program, the same as his three convention properties.

Rosen Shingle Creek, which opened two years ago, will not need expansion or improvements as part of the multimillion-dollar spending plan. The 1,500-room hotel, which has 445,000 sf of convention space, has a “four diamond” rating from AAA.

Maitland-based Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock Architects Inc. has been hired by Rosen to design the Rosen Plaza and Rosen Centre expansions. HHCP was also the architect for Rosen Shingle Creek.

Established in 1974, Rosen has more than 6,300 hotel rooms in the Orlando area and claims 6% of local capacity. Its three convention hotels have more than 3,600 rooms with 611,000 sf of meeting space.

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