Photo of hotel construction site with Florida mechanics lien illustration

As the hospitality industry struggles to return to sustainable levels, individual hotels, resorts, and restaurants are looking to capitalize on the popular desire for travel — despite the notable speedbumps of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — and many major brands are pushing forward with the development of new locations.

However, new developments are dealing with problems of their own, as evidenced by a large number of high-dollar construction disputes in Florida, a major destination for both summer and winter travel.

SpringHill Suites by Marriott Amelia Island – Compass Group, Inc. and Main Beach Sojourn, LLLP: $912,817.56

Amelia Island, Florida

Despite serving as a major milestone opening for the SpringHill Suites by Marriott brand, this newly-developed luxury hotel has run into some major issues for the company, as contractor Compass Group, Inc. filed a significant lien of $912,817.56 against the property and its owner — Georgia’s Main Beach Sojourn, LLLP — on July 15, 2021.

The Fernandina Beach-based contractor claims as part of the lien that it furnished general construction services for the “building construction of a 239 unit hotel, garage, pool/spa, site utilities, and other related site services” as part of the SpringHill Suites project.

According to Compass Group, the contract’s total value came to a staggering $31,758,712.63 after the company worked on the project from August 23, 2019, until April 20, 2021 — and work is still continuing on some aspects of the project.

The $50 million project originally broke ground in November 2019, with company officials noting at the time that the project would create about 250 construction jobs.

Compass Group notes that it “[works] diligently with architects, engineers, and the local community to preserve the nature that surrounds it,” boasting of a resume that includes “multifamily, hospitality, industrial/manufacturing, and restaurant” projects.

The Amelia Island hotel is a particularly notable one for the Marriott brand, as it happens to have been the 500th hotel opened under the “SpringHill Suites by Marriott” name. According to the company, the “all-suite brand offers a fresh take on mixing business and leisure,” and features 6060 square feet of meeting space while being in close proximity to main Amelia Island attractions like Main Beach Park, Fort Clinch State Park, and Fernandina Beach.

Riverside Promenade Dining and Retail Complex – Martin Case Construction, Inc. and Tsatas Acquisitions, LLC: $797,294.24

Pompano Beach, FL

Following a November 2017 groundbreaking, this project has reportedly been repeatedly affected by major delays in the past few years. Now, the project’s general contractor — Martin Case Construction, Inc. — has filed a lien on the property for $797,294.24 dating back to June 17, 2021.

The claim additionally includes $292,887.91 for retainage. According to Martin Case Construction, the company served as general contractor from March 11, 2019, to May 20, 2021.

The project is reportedly intended to be a multi-use complex with three total buildings which will include two waterfront restaurants alongside retail space. However, according to Pompano Beach’s local New Pelican newspaper, the Riverside Promenade has been heavily affected by delays.

 “In June of 2019, Tsatas Acquisitions was quoted as saying the interior build outs would be finished sometime between December of that year and February of 2020,” the report states. “It’s unclear when the project will be finished…Multiple messages left with Tsatas were not returned.”

In June 2019, Tsatas Acquisitions Director of Operations Don Olsen said that “We are moving forward…We’re doing the vertical pieces now. In a few months, you’ll see the buildings will be all the way up.” According to Olsen, the project was halted due to a design issue in early 2019 and a problem with the project’s original general contractor, but that the company had high hopes for the possibility of the location.

 “We believe that Pompano is going to be the next great city to go to in South Florida,” Olsen said. “Our expectations are high, and we have a feeling that the City and the community are going to love our concepts and they’re going to love having a new place to be able to choose from.”

After these major delays, a May 14, 2021, report from the publication noted that the development was “active with construction workers,” and local residents were reacting positively to the possibility of construction being finished — especially with the possibility of rising market values following completion.

Resident Margie Esteban-Gonzalez, who lives close to the project, said in May 2021 “I’m excited about any new projects in Pompano and especially the ones closer to me…honestly, my focus with this one is on how real estate will be affected because I’m in a condo and I am not a condo fan, and I’m trying to sell it as soon as I feel that it’s a good time to do so.”

However, it remains to be seen how the May 20, 2021, stoppage of work by Martin Case Construction affects the project’s timeline.

Hotel Effie Sandestin – Argo Systems, LLC and Sandestin Hotel, LLC: $499,601.83

Miramar Beach, FL

After completing almost two years of work on the recently-opened Hotel Effie Sandestin in Miramar Beach, Argo Systems, LLC filed a construction lien against the property for $499,601.83 on August 4, 2021.

According to the claim, Argo Systems served as an electrical subcontractor on the Hotel Effie project from September 2, 2019, until August 2, 2021. The company notes that it was owed a total value of $2,875,000, and originally sent notice of its contractual needs to project general contractor Batson-Cook Company in October 2019.

Marketed as a resort “designed to welcome all guests of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort to an experience that exemplifies genuine southern hospitality and exceptional service wrapped in comfortable luxury,” the 250-room hotel includes 20,000 square feet of meeting space, a 13,000 square foot ballroom, and four restaurants and lounges.

The hotel was originally planned for a fall 2020 opening, with the resort beginning to take reservations in August 2019 and the ownership group celebrating a “topping out ceremony” in October 2019. However, reported delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic held the resort’s actual opening day back to February 1, 2021.

However, the delay did little to impact the buzz surrounding the hotel. 

“A lot of people flock here and especially given the time, and the time that we’re in, people need to get away,” said Melissa Watson, marketing director for Sandestin Resort, in November 2020. Since the hotel’s opening, a number of articles have touted the new destination as having “panoramic views” and “an experience that’s both posh and personable.”

However, the process has not been entirely smooth: Besides the delays in opening and with monetary flow, the hotel has been having trouble attracting workers, as well, with the pandemic-addled opening likely partly to blame. 

Hugh Acheson — a James Beard Award-winning chef in charge of food and beverage at the hotel — recently spoke to the New York Times regarding the issues the hotel has faced, noting that starting wages had been raised to spur more interest: “People will walk down the street for a buck more — and they should.”

Construction in hospitality continues to struggle

The hospitality industry is looking forward to major post-pandemic upturns — however, not all are going to be able to benefit from the year’s gains, with hotels and hospitality venues around the US facing major bsankruptcies and construction liens.