Hotels to housing: Osceola County sets new standards on hotel conversions

Companies are converting old, abandoned hotels into affordable workforce housing

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – As more companies are investing in converting old hotels along 192 in Osceola County’s tourism district for affordable, workforce housing, the county commission is setting new standards for living conditions Monday night.

“For example, you have to have a kitchen,” Commissioner Viviana Jaynor said after the State of County earlier this month. “A lot of these motel rooms don’t have a kitchen and they are putting in a hotplate and calling it an apartment, that’s just not going to cut it.”

However, Chad Booth says the hotel-to-workforce housing apartment he found at the new Maingate Village apartments, the former Red Lion Hotel, goes above and beyond any apartment he found at a price he can afford.

“I can understand standards, but when you have a company going above and beyond. I love it, the apartments are great,” Booth said. “It’s actually better than some of the newer buildings that I have seen.”

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Booth is living in a one-bedroom apartment, which was two hotel rooms converted into one, paying $1200 dollars in rent, which includes water and cable.

“It does not feel like an old hotel,” he added. “For what I was paying downtown, it was about the same and I have more space. They totally updated the floors, brand new kitchen, brand new appliances.”

Leasing agent Corey Jonas gave News 6 a look inside, where there were no hot plates to be seen. Instead, there was a full kitchen with stainless steel appliances — even in the smallest studio at 350 sq. feet renting at $950 dollars a month.

“The concept works,” Jonas said. “Because a lot of people can’t believe as to what they are paying for when they get here.”

It also works — just miles from Walt Disney World, local restaurants, and gift shops — perfect for those in the workforce nearby.

The owner of Maingate Village Apartments, T2 Investments is now working at converting two more hotels into workforce housing in the area. Officials with the company said they have not yet seen the standards recommended by the Osceola County Commission.

The standards set by county commissioners present guidelines for these buildings, requiring a percentage of non-residential areas and green spaces, along with providing structural and appearance regulations.

No word if a vote will take place Monday night.


About the Author:

Nadeen Yanes joined News 6 as a general assignment reporter in 2016. She grew up in Leesburg and graduated from the University of Florida. Nadeen has won three Associated Press Awards for her reporting on the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the trial of the Pulse gunman's wife and the capture of an accused cop killer, Markeith Loyd.