Sunday, April 22, 2018
Business

Fenway Hotel bought by Tai Chi nonprofit for $2.8 million

DUNEDIN — The tangled saga of the historic Fenway Hotel opened a new chapter Friday as the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the United States of America announced its purchase of the iconic property for $2.8 million.

The long-shuttered hotel on the 6.4-acre parcel at 453 Edgewater Drive, along the Intracoastal Waterway, dates back to the 1920s.

"It's a jewel," said Sean Dennison, the society's executive director. "It fits our needs and functions in an important way."

The society will relocate its national headquarters from Tallahassee to Dunedin and open an international conference center on the site, Dennison said.

The 42,000-member society has chapters in 26 countries and about 6,000 participants in the United States dedicated to the practice of the Taoist arts, including Tai Chi, a centuries-old form of slow-moving, Chinese-influenced exercise.

The society has been interested in the property for at least a year, but it had a rival. A Pennsylvania-based development team wanted to raze the historic hotel and build a new complex, which would have included condos and a 90-room boutique hotel. The Dunedin City Commission passed ordinances paving the way for that plan, but it fell through.

PNC Bank, which was foreclosing on the property, declined to comment.

The society plans to restore the hotel, not tear it down, Dennison said.

"We want to preserve and really reinvigorate such a historic treasure," he said.

The group doesn't yet have a firm idea of how much that will cost, but previous estimates ran to the millions. The Fenway, an all-wood structure that is caving from water damage, lacks fire-protection devices.

Some Dunedin residents have protested that a nonprofit group like the society won't boost tax revenue and tourism.

On Friday, Dennison said he interpreted those concerns as "curiosity" about his group and promised to keep residents informed.

Dunedin officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In recent years, the fate of the Fenway has been closely watched in Dunedin. In 2006, George Rahdert, a St. Petersburg lawyer who represents the Tampa Bay Times, bought the property from Schiller International University, planning to restore and expand it into a 132-room high-end resort, but the recession soon afterward helped scuttle the project into foreclosure.

Charlie Frago can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4159. Follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago.

Comments
Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

When Samantha Hess’s marriage ended five years ago, she felt she was lacking a basic human need: Physical touch. As a woman in her late 20s living in Portland, Oregon, she found plenty of men interested in dating, but sexual contact was not what she ...
Published: 04/21/18
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. Those were among the prelim...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Times staffThe greater Brandon area will celebrate the grand opening of its second Goodwill store beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday (April 28) at 1407 U.S. 301. The new store will add another 12,000 square feet to the complex, which includes a 200,000-...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

State regulators Friday determined that one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, San Francisco-based Sunrun, is allowed to lease solar energy equipment for homes in Florida. The decision, solar energy advocates say, could open the do...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

For the sixth month running, Florida’s unemployment rate held at a nearly 11-year low of 3.9 percent in March as steady job gains continued. While many factors kept Florida’s economy chugging along, three industries stand out for leading year-over-ye...
Published: 04/20/18
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Published: 04/20/18
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Published: 04/20/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18