An ambitious Charlotte County development from a company known for its discount flights is getting off the ground.
Most people know Allegiant for its low-cost airfare. Now the Las Vegas-based company is getting into new territory with its planned Sunseeker Resort development in Port Charlotte.
Punta Gorda Airport in Charlotte County is an Allegiant flight destination —one of the reasons it chose the area for the project. “It's a great place to launch the Sunseeker brand,” Allegiant Travel Co. President John Redmond says in a December interview with the Business Observer.
The resort, as currently planned, will include a hotel and up to nine condominium towers on 20 acres. Restaurants, bars and stores are also planned to fill out the waterfront development. “We never set out to just build a condo tower,” Redmond says.
The idea is to create a complex that ties in a variety of elements into the resort, such as a grocery store and pharmacy. Redmond says the company spent a lot of time trying to figure out which elements it needed to be successful and to distinguish itself as a resort. “We were trying to come up with a plan that would address everything,” he says.
Allegiant recently started taking $5,000 refundable deposits on Sunseeker condo units. It also selected a design team for the project. “We knew we wanted this to be a very special project and a one-of-a-kind project, and to do something like that you need a one-of-a-kind team,” Redmond says.
The Sunseeker team consists of four firms — architectural firms Steelman Partners and L2 Studios Inc. and general contractors Manhattan Construction Group and Florida Premier Contractors. “We conducted a rather extensive RFP process and interviewed several different firms before we landed on the ones we did,” Redmond says.
Las Vegas-based Steelman will be Sunseeker's design architect. Architect Paul Steelman leads the firm, and his previous work includes several resorts and casinos for clients such as MGM Resorts International, Hard Rock, Caesar's Entertainment, Sheraton and Hyatt. Redmond knows Steelman from Redmond's own time working in Las Vegas for companies such as MGM Grand Resorts, where he was president and CEO. “I reached out to Paul to get him on board early on,” Redmond says. “I think he's a talent like no other.”
L2 Studios, based in Orlando, will be the resort's architect of record, creating production drawings for the project. The firm also has experience with hotels and resorts.
One of the two builders on the project, Manhattan Construction Group, is headquartered in Naples. It built AT&T Stadium in Dallas where the Dallas Cowboys play and the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. The company has also built hospitality projects as well as condominiums and apartments. In Florida, Manhattan has offices in Tampa, Fort Myers and Naples.
“When it came to the construction of this project, we needed people who had a track record of condominium or vertical-type projects in Florida,” Redmond says.
The final member of the Sunseeker design team, Florida Premier Contractors, is based in Charlotte County, where the project will be built. It recently constructed a 250,000-square-foot Cheney Brothers Inc. food distribution center. “They bring that local knowledge and expertise to the table,” Redmond says.
Overall, the idea behind the concept the design team and Allegiant developed is for people to stay for longer periods of time if they'd like. They want guests to have the “variety of experience and amenities to keep you engaged and happy the entire time you're there,” Redmond says.
Sunseeker is also Allegiant's aim at entering the resort industry with a bang. Redmond says, “It's always been a desire to go into the resort-hotel business.” He says Allegiant wanted to “go big or go home, and this delivers on that.”