Make us your home page
Instagram

Historic Fenway hotel to go up for auction

The 1920s hotel, on Dunedin’s Edgewater Drive, is in foreclosure after failed attempts at revival.

JIM DAMASKE | Times (2011)

The 1920s hotel, on Dunedin’s Edgewater Drive, is in foreclosure after failed attempts at revival.

DUNEDIN — An auction next week could mean a new owner and new direction for the historic Fenway hotel.

Records show RBC Bank hopes to sell the foreclosed downtown waterfront property for $10.8 million — the amount developer George Rahdert owes in loans, interest and other fees.

But Rahdert doubts the building he bought for $8 million six years ago, just ahead of the economic downturn, will sell for that much. Records show the property is now assessed at $2 million.

Over the years, Rahdert says, he has sunk tens of thousands of dollars into the property for things like architectural planning, repairs and regular lawn mowing as he scrambled to secure another buyer, business partner or other funding source to turn the Fenway into a high-end resort.

Now he stands to lose even more. If the 6.4-acre tract at 453 Edgewater Drive is auctioned off for less than $10.8 million, Rahdert will have to make up the difference. That's on top of the $187,000 in unpaid property taxes he already owes.

The online auction is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday at pinellas.realforeclose.com.

"I hope that the party who buys the property will continue to make the effort to turn it into what it can be, which is a beautifully preserved historic building that will bring a high level of tourism and community opportunities to the city of Dunedin," Rahdert told the Times.

"A well-done hotel is a huge amenity to a neighborhood," he added, pointing to the success of the Loews Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach and Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg. "I hope and pray that the Fenway can be that kind of positive force for the Dunedin community."

Rahdert purchased the 1920s hotel in 2006 from Schiller International University with dreams of revamping the space into a 132-room high-class resort with ballrooms, common spaces and fine dining.

The developer quickly encountered a "calamity of errors" in the form of neighbors who protested an expansion and former city officials who delayed redevelopment.

Once the project got back on track, Rahdert was again stymied after a self-proclaimed hotel magnate backed out of a contract promising to spend $12.5 million to buy the land, pay off Rahdert's investment and finance the remaining redevelopment costs.

The BP oil spill, which hurt the Florida tourism industry, and the continued recession further hampered Rahdert's efforts, he said.

Within the last year, Rahdert said, he and his associates presented a buyer to the bank, but the bank rejected the $7.1 million offer.

"The bank is in the driver's seat, and it'll be potluck on who buys it," said Rahdert, who is also a St. Petersburg-based attorney who represents the Tampa Bay Times on First Amendment and business issues. He says he has worked on more than 20 other preservation projects.

Dunedin City Manager Rob DiSpirito said he and his staff are optimistic that "there are some interested parties that have an interest in redeveloping that site, utilizing the historic structure that's there."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at ksummers@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Historic Fenway hotel to go up for auction 03/28/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 7:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”
  2. Potential new laws further curb Floridians' right to government in the Sunshine

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — From temporarily shielding the identities of murder witnesses to permanently sealing millions of criminal and arrest records, state lawmakers did more this spring than they have in all but one of the past 22 years to chip away at Floridians' constitutional guarantees to access government records and …

    The Legislature passed 17 new exemptions to the Sunshine Law, according to a tally by the First Amendment Foundation.
  3. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]

  4. Trigaux: Can Duke Energy Florida's new chief grow a business when customers use less power?

    Energy

    Let's hope Harry Sideris has a bit of Harry Houdini in him.

    Duke Energy Florida president Harry Sideris laid out his prioriities for the power company ranging from improved customer service to the use of more large-scale solar farms to provide electricity. And he acknowledged a critical challenge: People are using less electricity these days. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Citigroup agrees to pay nearly $100 million fine for Mexican subsidiary

    Banking

    NEW YORK — Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering.

    Citigroup has agreed to pay nearly $100 million to federal authorities to settle claims that a lack of internal controls and negligence in the bank's Mexican subsidiary may have allowed customers to commit money laundering. 
[Associated Press file photo]