CLEARWATER — Ocean Properties might be the biggest hotel company you've never heard of, and it's taking a major interest in Clearwater Beach.
After years of delay due to the Great Recession, the international conglomerate is finally getting ready to build a dramatic-looking, crescent-shaped, 15-story hotel at a prime location on the Gulf of Mexico where the Adam's Mark hotel once stood. The site on the western side of S Gulfview Boulevard now serves as a beach parking lot.
Ocean Properties also has a 50 percent stake in the Sandpearl Resort, and it recently bought a large vacant parcel near the Sand Key Bridge that was once slated for a condo mega-development called Marquesas.
But the Adam's Mark site is where the company will be making its next move. Ocean Properties, which owns and manages more than 100 hotels in the United States and Canada, first got Clearwater's approval to build a hotel on the Adam's Mark property in 2008. But construction never started because the economy soured.
Now the company is back with plans to put a 230-room hotel with a restaurant, bar and five-story parking garage at the south end of the BeachWalk promenade.
"They're a very sophisticated owner and developer of hotel properties," said Ed Armstrong, a Clearwater land-use attorney representing the company. "They're interested in moving forward as quickly as possible."
Ocean Properties has been talking to city officials about making some changes to architectural plans for the hotel that it submitted five years ago.
Clearwater's planning director, Michael Delk, said the changes appear to be relatively minor, mostly having to do with eliminating some shade from the swimming pool area.
Armstrong said the company intends to file new plans within the next two months. It will then seek approval from the city's Community Development Board, which green-lighted the original hotel design.
"The overall appearance is not changing," Armstrong said. "The architecture is the same."
The number of rooms in the hotel will also stay the same, he said.
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The Adam's Mark hotel chain, which once included more than 20 upscale hotels, no longer exists. On Clearwater Beach, a 14-story Adam's Mark at 430 S Gulfview Blvd. was a local landmark for nearly 30 years.
It was demolished in 2005 to make way for a luxury condominium tower that was going to be called the Indigo Beach Residences. Then the condo market went bust, and the condo developer, Taylor Woodrow, sold the site to Ocean Properties at a loss. Taylor Woodrow, a British company, had bought the site for $31.5 million in 2005 and sold it for $17.5 million in 2007.
Ocean Properties operates hotels with brands that include Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn and Westin. It has not announced which brand, if any, will be on the Clearwater Beach site.
No one at the publicity-shy company's headquarters in Delray Beach was available to talk about the hotel this week.
Among the company's three dozen hotels in Florida are a Residence Inn in Treasure Island and a SpringHill Suites by Marriott in New Tampa.
Since late 2010, Ocean Properties has been the managing partner of the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach. The company bought a 50 percent stake in it, becoming partners with JMC Communities of St. Petersburg, which developed the resort.
JMC Communities and its CEO, Mike Cheezum, also built the Mandalay Beach Club and Belle Harbor condominium projects on Clearwater Beach.
At one time, JMC had also planned a fourth project on the beach: Marquesas, a $200 million development, would have featured two condo towers on nearly 6 acres just northwest of the bridge to Sand Key.
Marquesas never happened. Ocean Properties recently acquired the site. It's not clear at this point what the company plans to do with it.
"It's not as imminent as the Adam's Mark, which is the current focus," Armstrong said.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.