Project Spotlight: Renaissance Hotel

Written by: Rachel Washington

The re-imagined San Marco Hotel opened at the end of 2021. The original Hotel San Marco, which was on the same site as this new hotel, was built in 1885. However, the hotel was burned down in 1897. Controversy surrounded the fire, many believing Henry Flagler was to blame to eliminate the competition for his Hotel Ponce de Leon.1 The Renaissance Hotel gives an architectural tribute to the original San Marco Hotel and the Gilded Age, but also incorporates Victorian elements.

The Renaissance Hotel is a uniquely designed 89-room hotel located in downtown St. Augustine, across the street from the St. Augustine Welcome Center. The three-story hotel features guestrooms and suites that are classically styled with balconies featuring city views. The hotel also features a full-service restaurant and craft bar, 159 parking spaces, 4,462 square foot event space, 446-person ballroom, and hotel amenities including a pool and fitness center.

Key Facts About the Project

  1. Scott Knowles, PE, was the project manager. Learn more about him here.
  2. Project was completed in 2021.
  3. Design included site layout, grading and drainage design, utility design, and landscape and irrigation design.


MDG provided civil engineering services for the Renaissance Hotel. Our team prepared construction plans and obtained permits with COSA Public Works, SJRWMD, and FDOT. MDG coordinated with the City of St. Augustine Historical Architectural Review Board to keep the project in accordance with the Design Standards for Entry Corridors, as this site is located at a high-traffic and high-tourism intersection at one of St. Augustine’s entry corridors.

To maximize the acreage while still providing adequate parking for the site, MDG created construction plans for an underground garage to serve both the guests and employees. An underground garage does present the possibility for flooding, so as a potential solution, MDG engineered a dewatering system that would have drained the water table so low that the neighboring stormwater pond belonging to the City would have been drained, and was therefore unfeasible.

Download the Project Profile Sheet


Instead, the parking garage was reduced in capacity and depth with some of the parking now being handled by surface parking areas, and a very heavy, thick concrete slab was specified by the building’s structural engineer. The thickened garage slab was designed to resist the uplift forces generated by the water table. This solution came about from the client’s previous experience from another hotel design. The client had constructed a hotel south on San Marco Boulevard where the groundwater had lifted the garage slab and cracked it causing the groundwater to begin seeping into the garage through the cracks. The idea is that the garage floor is heavy enough so that the water table cannot push it upwards, therefore destabilizing it causing it to crack and seep. In addition, sump pumps were provided by the building’s plumbing engineer to prevent the garage from filling with groundwater seepage.

The underground parking garage provided the opportunity for the Client to build the hotel as planned on their site while still meeting City guidelines and providing parking to their clientele. This is especially important in the downtown location where parking is limited. Parking is also available to guests of the restaurant and bar.

This $20 million dollar project was over three years in the making. Our team was honored to be part of making this tribute hotel a reality, bringing just a bit more history to our beautiful city.

Our Experience

From conception to completion, we can provide a total solution to meet your needs. MDG combines strategic planning, experience, creativity, and an integrated approach to each project to ensure project success. Our experts guide clients in overcoming regulatory hurdles and avoiding costly pitfalls from initial planning and engineering through implementation and post-project performance monitoring.

Our firm is FDOT pre-qualified in the following work groups:

  • 3.1 – Minor Highway Design
  • 3.2 – Major Highway Design
  • 7.1 – Signing, Pavement Marking and Channelization
  • 10.1 – Roadway Construction Engineering Inspection
  • 13.6 – Land Planning/Engineering

Renaissance Hotel

The Renaissance Hotel is a modern luxury hotel located in the heart of downtown St. Augustine, just steps away from the Castillo de San Marco. 

Click here to learn more about the hotel.

In need of our civil engineering services for your project? We would be happy to partner with you!


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