Belleview Biltmore's future in limbo after commission vote
BELLEAIR -- Uncertainty about the Belleview Biltmore hotel's future only grew Wednesday, a day after Belleair commissioners voted to delay for six months a rezoning decision that could have resulted in demolition of the historic landmark and redevelopment of the land.
Hotel admirers have sought a preservationist to buy and restore the 400-room hotel, built in 1895 and closed in 2009.
Since that hasn't happened, the town staff proposed a new zoning category that would let something other than a hotel or single-family homes be built where the Biltmore stands.
But in a 3-2 vote Tuesday, commissioners decided to wait, telling staffers to tweak the proposed ordinance. One commissioner also called for a lawsuit to block the hotel's Miami owners from trying to raze the structure, saying it would violate Belleair's historic preservation code.
Meanwhile, the owners' lawyer says it's unclear whether St. Petersburg developer Mike Cheezem, who has a contract to buy and replace the hotel with condos or townhomes after a six-month due diligence period, will walk away.
"As we sit here at this moment, we don't know" what will happen, said attorney Ed Armstrong, who represents Biltmore owners Raphael and Daniel Ades. "It'll take some time to sort out all the options."
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