New hotel being built near historic St. Augustine

St. Johns County has been seeing an increase in tourism over the past several years.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Raul Sanchez and his wife, Julie, have been coming to St. Augustine for 20 years. He said he's noticed an uptick in visitors.

"From the time I first started coming, it was a little more quaint but it still has that feel, I think - just a little more congested," he said.

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The St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau said 5.3 million people visited the Ancient City in 2014. That number grew to 6.7 million in 2016, the latest number available.

The boost means there is more demand for places to stay.

Construction crews are busy at the corner of Castillo Drive and San Marco Avenue, where a new Renaissance Hotel is being built. It will feature 89 rooms, a banquet hall, a restaurant, and an upscale bar and a parking garage.


Troy Blevins, the director of developments for Jalaram Hotels, said the architect behind the historic design, Jerry Dixon, died a few weeks ago.

"We're talking a decade of going back and forth with the city and design," Blevins said. "He did an amazing job of researching all the hotels that are no longer here and implemented three of the main hotels that burned down in the late 1800s, early 1900s.

The Visitors Bureau said the Renaissance is the 10th new hotel to come to the area since 2010.

That includes three in the city of St. Augustine, two in Vilano Beach, one on St. Augustine Beach and four along I-95 at State Road 16 and County Road 208.

That doesn't include growth in alternative accommodations including Airbnb rentals.

The Visitors Bureau said St. Augustine hotels and accommodations have hosted more visitors in  2018 and so far in 2019 than in any previous year.

The Renaissance is expected to be finished in July 2020.

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