Postcard ca. 1970s: Kummerlowe Archive
1980 Howard Johnson's Directory cover

Orlando-Downtown, Florida

-- 304 West Colonial (SR 50)

Among several Howard Johnson's to have been built to serve the Orlando/Walt Disney World area, the fourteen floor 271 room licensee operated Orlando-Downtown complex opened in 1972.

A trend of franchise re-purchases by the Howard Johnson Company begun in the 1960s with Restaurants, accelerated during the '70s to include Motor Lodges. By October of 1978 the Company had purchased Orlando-Downtown from its licensee for the then considerable sum of $5.5 million. The deal was sold to shareholders as a good thing with the Company indicating that the complex was sited near principal shopping and commercial districts and would attract business customers with its meeting room facilities. After the ownership transfer, the property was renovated and the swinging Elizabethan Room lounge featuring live jazz music was added (note the reuse of the Elizabethan theme--see Deerfield Beach).

Postcard ca 1970s: Kummerlowe Archive

Photo March 2003: Kummerlowe Archive
Photos ca. 2000s: Bob Venditti
Photo March 2003: Kummerlowe Archive

USA: The Brave New World of Extremes
While it lost its Howard Johnson's Restaurant when it was converted into the Park Place restaurant after 1985, the Motor Lodge retained its name until 1993. Apparently it served a brief stint as the Executive Center Hotel before being converted into a Holiday Inn and Angel's Diner.

Then during 2004 the site was closed and temporarily reopened as a Best Value Inn. On September 18, 2005 Orlando Sentinel columnist, Jim Toner, reported that the former HoJo's was to become an excusive condo-hotel called The Lexington. Part of a more than $500 million mixed use urban utopia development called CityPlace, the former HoJo's would have been utterly transformed and surrounded by towering skyscrapers--its patrons to be the uber-elite, and a far cry from the ordinary Americans that it had initially been designed to serve...

Too good to be true or much less very real the schemes and grandiose plans of CityPlace collapsed, and the property became the Crowne Plaza Orlando Downtown Hotel.

Photo Sept. 12, 2004 (closed): Kummerlowe Archive

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