How successful is Protogroup’s new Daytona Beach hotel?
DAYTONA BEACH – It’s a rainy afternoon, but that hasn’t stopped Greg Green from checking out the pool deck at the Daytona Grande, the 27-story, 455-room hotel that opened a little more ago month in the controversial $ 192 million Protogroup Twin-Towers Condominium Hotel Project.
“It’s a really nice pool,” said Green, 50, as he watched his wife bask among the raindrops in the hot tub beneath him on the tiered patio.
The Daytona Grande welcomed its first guests on June 4, a smooth opening that surprisingly went without fanfare to mark a long-awaited milestone in the largest and costliest development in Daytona Beach history.
Discreet opening: The long-delayed Protogroup hotel opens without fanfare. Here is a glimpse of the interior
It is not known how many guests have reserved rooms in the following weeks.
A heating and air conditioning technician with his own business in Birmingham, Alabama, Green and his wife were spending a few days at the Daytona Grande before heading south to Fort Lauderdale.
“It’s a good view of the city,” he said. “The room is nice and clean. “
Because his wife made the reservation, Green said he wasn’t sure what price the couple paid. On the hotel’s website, daytonagrande.com, nightly rates for Friday and Saturday nights in August ranged from $ 319 to $ 377. Weeknights were available for $ 183 a night.
While the couple were happy with their 20th floor room, Green also said it was obvious to him that the hotel was not finished yet.
“The elevator is screwed up,” Green said. “There are five elevators, but only two of them work. We had a hard time getting him to stop on our floor.
Inside, around a dozen people treated to drinks from the bar or strolled through the ground floor of the three-level lobby, with its light fixtures shaped like coral formations and oversized paintings of underwater scenes. .
“It’s not really busy,” Green said.
In a conversation with visitors to the hotel, an employee said the hotel was full, adding that only about half of its 455 rooms were available for booking.
No such update on the hotel’s opening summer has been available from its owner.
Alexey Lysich, president of Protogroup Inc., the Palm Coast-based family business whose Russian owners are developing the project, has consistently declined to answer questions about its progress.
Last week, a Protogroup employee closed the door on a News-Journal reporter looking for Lysich at the company office at the hotel’s base on North Atlantic Avenue and Oakridge Boulevard.
“No, thank you,” she said, cutting off the reporter’s question.
Lysich also did not respond to voicemail or text messages requesting an update on occupancy, staff and other matters related to the newly opened hotel.
Plenty of elbow room at the Daytona Grande
While an indication of hotel occupancy in Volusia County is collectively reflected in the monthly tourist tax collections that fund tourism promotion through the county’s three tourism advertising authorities, the collection of the tourist tax stay for individual properties cannot be disclosed by law.
About 50 hotels confidentially report their monthly occupancy figures to Mid-Florida Marketing & Research through a partnership with the Lodging & Hospitality Association of Volusia County. From this data, Mid-Florida formulates a county-wide average that is disseminated to association members as a business indicator.
On the other hand, hotel managers tend to be reluctant to share specific occupancy figures for their properties due to competition concerns, although they often offer more general observations to reflect trends.
Evelyn Fine, president of Mid-Florida Marketing & Research, said she wanted to include Daytona Grande in raw data for her monthly research, but was unable to get the hotel to participate.
“We try every month for them, but so far no response,” she said.
A sign that such a turnout could be happening, Daytona Grande joined the hotel association last week, said Bob Davis, the organization’s president and CEO.
“We are proud to have them,” said Davis. “We are proud that a fantastic new hotel is joining the association and that it is in Daytona Beach.”
So how busy is the hotel?
Over three days last week, a tally of cars parked in the property’s six-story parking garage averaged 52 vehicles per day in its 517 spaces. Most of the time, only the ground floor was used.
While the hotel uses the garage for self-parking and valet parking – at nightly rates of $ 20 and $ 30 plus tax, respectively – it is also used by non-hotel guests traveling to the hotel. beach or other businesses nearby.
Meanwhile, inside the hotel there was also a lot of leeway.
One recent afternoon, a dozen diners occupied two of the more than a dozen tables in the restaurant around the reception area. At a counter that opened up to the kitchen, diners ordered a self-serve style from a lonely crumpled paper “dinner all day” menu.
Choices included chipotle wings ($ 12); chicken quesadilla ($ 10); wood-fired pepperoni pizza ($ 15); Chicken Caesar salad ($ 15); a “Beachside Burger” ($ 17); ciabatta turkey club ($ 16); or chicken fillets and fries ($ 14).
The scene differs from the images and promotion of the dining options pictured on the hotel’s website, which invite guests to indulge in “inspired American cuisine, with an assorted wine collection” and “taste fish. and fresh market seafood, or choose a classic selection of prime meats in a setting like no other.
Nonetheless, Green, the visitor from Alabama, said he and his wife had tried the pizza and the quesadilla and found them “both pretty good,” he said. “We would come back.”
Project plagued by delays, controversies
The opening of the hotel is a milestone for a project that has suffered a long series of controversies and delays since Protogroup purchased the property at the intersection of Oakridge Boulevard and North Atlantic Avenue in 2012.
In August 2020, Protogroup separated from Port St. Lucie-based Gryffin Construction Corp., the second general contractor for the large-scale project.
Gryffin resumed construction of the Protogroup Twin Towers project in October 2018, following the abrupt departure of the original contractor, WG Yates & Sons Construction Company, based in Mississippi.
In December 2020, the City of Daytona Beach granted a further extension for the completion of the project, just ahead of the previous deadline of January 29, 2021 for the completion of the south tower of the project. The city has extended this deadline until March 18, 2022.
An extension was also granted by the city on the deadline for completion of the North Tower, which now faces a deadline of March 16, 2024.
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Along the way, the project also angered local residents with a proposed valet lane that would have cut west through oncoming traffic at the Oakridge-Atlantic Avenue intersection.
In October 2020, the developer began unauthorized construction on the controversial valet parking lane at the east end of Oakridge, work that began without notice on an expired permit from the Florida Department of Transportation. Ultimately, the track was removed at the developer’s expense.
At different times, the project also encountered issues when it closed a required beach access pedestrian walkway at the northern edge of the construction site. Most recently, the catwalk was closed for a while in March, just as Bike Week visitors started arriving for the annual 10-day event.
In June, a code enforcement complaint was filed with the City of Daytona Beach regarding rows of rusting rebar columns at the construction site of the North Tower portion of the Protogroup Project, which did not has not yet been built.
Following: Code enforcement complaint lodged on rusted rebar at the Protogroup North Tower site
On this site, dozens of visible reinforcements protrude from the pilings already sunk. The rebar is tinted copper, the result of rusting in the sun and salt air for nearly three years since foundation work began in December 2018 on this part of the project.
The North Tower, when completed, would be the tallest building in Daytona Beach. In 2017, The News-Journal reported that the foundation consisted of 100-foot-deep holes drilled into the ground and filled with concrete and rebar.
The complaint was lodged by Paulita Kundid, owner of the small Sea Dunes hotel at the foot of the Daytona Grande hotel. Less than 48 hours after the complaint was filed, in the early morning hours of June 24, the 13-story Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside in Miami-Dade County suddenly collapsed.
This tragedy heightened Kundid’s urgency on the issue.
On June 29, the site had been listed as “compliant” with respect to the appearance complaint following a visit by city code inspector Clearvens Jean-Baptiste, according to the website. application of the city code.
Controversies involving the developer have also spread beyond the construction site.
A 2018 federal lawsuit against Protogroup includes an Internal Revenue Service report that questioned Lysich’s claim he paid a Bahamian shell company $ 710,000 for roughly $ 71 million worth of fruits and vegetables in 2014. The IRS said a deduction Lysich had reported for shell company payments “should be banned altogether.”
Excavation work for the Twin Towers project began in March 2017, with an initial completion date slated for summer 2019 for the 27-story South Tower, now Daytona Grande. The 31-story taller north tower was originally scheduled for completion in 2020.