Pittsburgh Firm to Build Full-Service Hotel in Jacksonville March 24, 1997 Share 1 -- Reed Travel Features JACKSONVILLE -- A number of lodging companies and hotel interests plan to build hotels and renovate area properties.Interstate Hotels Co. of Pittsburgh, for example, signed a letter of intent to develop a full-service property near the Jacksonville Convention Center.An upscale brand affiliation will be sought.No other details were available at press time.In other news:* Orlando hotelier Richard Kessler is set to buy the old Cordova Hotel in St. Augustine and turn it into one of his Grand Theme Hotels. He plans to call the 100-room hotel the Flagler Casa Monica.Built in the 1880s as the Hotel Casa Monica and later bought by Henry Flagler, it was renamed Hotel Cordova.It became the St. Johns County Courthouse in the early 1960s and now is vacant.Kessler also operates the Castle Hotel in Orlando.* A $1.2 million renovation is under way at the 66-room Lodge & Beach Club at Ponte Vedra Beach.The remodeling project will be completed by next February at the property, which formerly was known as the Lodge & Bath Club.The bathrooms and the guest rooms have been updated with new water filters, paint, artwork and carpeting.The lodge's 12,500-square-foot health club was revamped last year and features a full line of cardiovascular equipment and weight machines.Restaurants and lounges also will be redone.* As part of a $35 million project, Amelia Island Plantation upgraded its Center Court tennis facility with a $100,000 face-lift.The hotel broke ground for 250 oceanfront rooms as part of its new Amelia Inn and Beach Club; the project includes more than 23,000 square feet of conference space. An opening is planned for April 1998.* Hilton Hotels Corp. returned to Jacksonville with the issuance of a franchise to Maryland Hospitality Inc., College Park, Md. The firm is the owner and operator of the 291-room Jacksonville Hilton and Towers.The hotel, at 1201 Riverplace Blvd., had been a Hilton from 1971 to 1987; it operated independently from 1987 to July 1991, when it closed.In the interim, the hotel underwent a $15 million renovation.