As one of the most talked about projects in Charlotte County, it’s not surprising that Allegiant Travel Company’s Sunseeker Resort has drawn both excitement and criticism.
For example, when plans shifted earlier this year into a project heavier on hotels than condos, Allegiant CEO John Redmond snuffed the naysayers during a September conference call with investors.
Initially in August of 2017, Allegiant announced plans to build 720 condominiums and a 75-room hotel in its anticipated resort along Charlotte Harbor.
But a year later, that changed.
Now, current plans call for 500 hotel rooms in a resort building and another 160 to 180 condominiums in two towers as part of a first phase of the $420 million construction.
“What would you say to the criticism that this project started out as ‘we’re going to build it and sell condos’, and then nobody wanted to buy those condos, so then it morphed into a hotel opportunity?” asked Stifel, Nicolaus & Company Analyst Joe DeNardi during Allegiant’s investor call in September. “Do you worry at all that the lack of demand for condos speaks to the demand to stay in this area?”
Redmond didn’t hesitate in response.
“Anyone who thinks that we have changed direction by virtue of the fact that we can’t sell a condo, that’s complete hogwash,” he said. “We have switched gears... Because we can make more money. Selling a condo is a one-off cash event.”
A formal groundbreaking for vertical construction, which could take 18-to-24-months, is anticipated for February, Allegiant officials said in the call.
Company spokespeople directed the Sun at the end of November to that investor call regarding questions for this story.
Allegiant has spent at least $30 million for roughly 20 parcels of land that make up the project’s footprint in Charlotte Harbor.
A final site plan was approved by the county on Oct. 10, but that does not contain details on building specs, according to Charlotte County spokesperson Brian Gleason.
By the end of November, a county lift station was approved for replacement, along with reconstruction of Main Street, a perimeter and retaining walls, and a sales trailer.
Some work has already been done at the site. The parcels of land were consolidated into one; roads immediately surrounding them have been closed; and at least 17 structures were torn down by the end of September.
A new Main Street is being built on the west end of the property, Sunseeker Resort Executive Vice President Ben Mammina told investors “we’re starting to rebuild some of the infrastructure in the area to accommodate the size of the project that we’re putting in.”
A very large pool is still anticipated, along with restaurants, a roughly 200-slip marina, and more.
In July, for example, Allegiant announced its purchase of Kingsway Country Club in Lake Suzy just north of Charlotte Harbor, east of Interstate 75 as another element for the planned resort experience.
Redmond told investors earlier this year that at least 1,000 people had registered to be a Sunseeker condo owner — with 56 that had signed agreements to actually put up money.
But despite all of this, will Sunseeker really happen?
“If we wanted to, a couple of months down the road — and we’re keeping that option out there, but if we wanted to go flip all this, sure we could do that,” Redmond said in September.
But there is no current indication that Allegiant will flip Sunseeker, confirmed company spokesperson Hilarie Grey in late November.
She explained that comment was made to investment analysts whose interest is in making sure that every option is out there — as they are looking at financial risk.
For months, road and infrastructure work has been going on, she said. “Things are definitely moving.”