Belleview Biltmore Hotel sold for $6.2 million

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BELLEAIR — The long-shuttered Belleview Biltmore has finally sold for $6.2 million.

County records show St. Petersburg developer Mike Cheezem's JMC Communities — the firm behind prominent projects such as the Sandpearl resort on Clearwater Beach and Ovation condominium tower in downtown St. Petersburg — recently completed the transaction between its subsidiary Belleview Place Land LLC and Miami-based former owner BB Hotel LLC.

The sale price is about $400,000 less than the preliminary contract price reported last year.

The controversial purchase is the first step toward a new era for the dilapidated 1890s-era hotel, which is still at the center of litigation from preservationists who have rallied for years for a full restoration. Known as the "White Queen of the Gulf" and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it hosted presidents, celebrities and generations of Pinellas residents and guests before closing in 2009.

The Belleair Town Commission last year approved JMC's $15 million plan to tear down all but the original structure's roughly 38,000-square-feet west wing, or 10 percent, for conversion into a boutique inn with salvaged pieces incorporated into the decor. The inn will then be joined by 132 new condos and townhomes.

But first, Cheezem told the Tampa Bay Times, the firm is in the process of documenting the hotel's history through photographs and written catalogs.

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