BELLEAIR — No decision on the fate of the historic Belleview Biltmore was made Tuesday night, though about 175 people showed up at a town hall meeting to weigh in on the landmark's future.
The crowd showed up in response to a recent request by the hotel's owner to raze much of the 115-year-old hotel. Most of the 30 or so people who spoke pleaded with town leaders to save the Biltmore, saying it was precious and important to Pinellas County's history.
"I'm absolutely shocked and appalled that there are people that want to tear down that thing," said resident Will Johnson, his voice breaking.
His wife, LaVonne, told town leaders that the couple bought a home in Belleair because of the Biltmore.
Some even suggested that the town buy the hotel.
A couple of speakers, however, including resident Lil Cromer, said the decaying hotel had become an eyesore. It's time to plan for its funeral, she said.
A group of Miami investors bought the hotel, its golf course and its Cabana Club on Sand Key for about $8 million in late 2010. BB Hotel LLC, which owns the hotel, filed the demolition request.
The town is still reviewing the request, but town manager Micah Maxwell said it appears deficient and likely will be sent back to the company with recommendations for additions.
The town scheduled the discussion of the Biltmore to brief town leaders on development issues pertaining to the 22-acre property.
The owner's representative, Matthew Cummings, maintains it's much too expensive to renovate the hotel.