Old Dixie motel expected to reopen as the Henry Hotel in about a year

The new owners of the derelict hotel structure on Old Dixie Highway expect to finish remodeling in about a year and plan to add a 30-foot-by-90-foot pool, a 3,500 foot banquet center, and a restaurant that will be a steakhouse on the weekends, representatives told County Commissioners at a March 21 meeting.

The renovated structure will be called the Henry Hotel.

“It’s a great addition to the county. I look forward to the completion. It really is going to be nice.”

— GREG HANSEN, county commissioner

“We’re anxiously awaiting to get started, and we’re looking at a one year construction schedule from when we receive our permit,” said Jim Albano, representing architect Bespoke Group and general contractor Albano Design Studios.

The county and the hotel’s ownership have been at odds over the renovation process missing construction deadlines, and the slow pace of the redevelopment process has frustrated some area residents.

The development company’s representatives acknowledged that the property still isn’t much to look at.

“Listen, the property doesn’t look pretty right now, even though it was cleaned up,” said Greg Kong, a local real estate agent representing owner MG Capital Partners.

But, he added, “All of the dirty beds, the bathrooms — all of those things were removed. … I don’t know how many dumpster loads there were, but there were a lot.”

Recently illegal dumping has been a problem, Albano said, that has since been fixed: A breach in the construction fence had allowed trespassers to slip onto the property, but the breach has been mended and the trash cleared.

The general contractor expects to have 24-hour-security on site once they break ground.

The hotel itself will be modeled after a boutique hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, and will be 96 rooms — down from the current 100 rooms as some of the rooms are converted to suites, Albano said.

Commissioner Andy Dance asked what defines a “boutique hotel.”

Albano said they’re generally small, but upscale.

“Even though this is an outside corridor hotel, it is going to be on the on the higher-end side,” Albano said. “The interior furnishings are quite luxurious for for each room.”

One of the owners, he said, is a restauranteur who owns five restaurants in New York City.

“The plan is at night and on the weekends, the restaurant becomes a nice steak house or chophouse,” Albano said. “Additionally, there’s a full service bar, as well as outdoor seating around the pool.”

The owners are considering adding a second additional building with 90 rooms, spread across three stories, in the future. That one would have interior corridors.

MG Capital, Albano said, owns 18 other hotels, and this one will be managed by Reliance Hotel Group, based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dance asked if the owners plan to keep the hotel or flip it. Albano said they expect to keep it.

Commissioners spoke favorably of the company’s plans.

“I’m happy to see this because it’s been a long struggle with this location,” Commissioner David Sullivan said. “It’s been vacant for a number of years, so it’s not an easy project to take on and try to fix up again, but it’s a great location — right on Interstate 95 and across from Plantation Bay — so seeing progress is the most important thing here.”

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