Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Business

One of Tampa's original cigar factories could soon be a boutique hotel

TAMPA — They've been turned into offices, schools, restaurants and luxury apartments. And now one of Tampa's original cigar factories could soon be a boutique hotel.

The former Balbin Bros. Cigar Factory at 1202 N. Howard Ave. was purchased for $1.4 million this week by a partnership between a Tampa hotelier and a Louisiana-based hospitality company. Though still in the early stages, plans call for a hotel with about 70 rooms that likely will be part of a major chain but with a name reflecting its local heritage, partner Mike Desai said Friday.

In its first Florida venture, Desai's My Hospitality Hotels was attracted to the location just south of Interstate 275 because of the Jewish Community Center nearing completion and a 198-unit apartment complex planned nearby.

"Everything is moving north on Howard because everything south of Kennedy (Boulevard) is already developed,'' Desai said. Although the immediate neighborhood is run down, "what we're anticipating and hoping for is that some of the surrounding area gets bought up and a few nice restaurants come in to clean up the area. We're hoping that JCC, the apartments and even this hotel could help boost the area a little.''

Read more: Cigar factories, key pieces of Tampa's past, are for sale

Dating to the early 1900s, the 35,000-square-foot factory hit the market late last year for just over $2 million. It was built in the traditional way, with a high-ceiling interior and tall windows on the north and south that allowed breezes to blow through and provided plenty of light for workers who sat at benches while a lector read to them.

"It actually is in surprisingly good shape,'' Desai said. "I think the structure of the roof limited a lot of deterioration of the building . . . We don't anticipate too many problem but it's like opening a can of worms with an old building.''

With architects and engineers yet to do their work, the total cost of the project is unknown. "It's going to be way up there,'' Desai said. "I think it's probably more costly than building a new property.'' Renovations could start in the middle of next year, he said, and take six to nine months.

Desai's company, which is in partnership with Sheila Patel of Tampa on the cigar factory project, currently has hotels in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi under the Marriott, Hilton and Holiday Inn names. It is looking at other sites in the Tampa Bay area; it considered a cigar factory in Ybor City but ruled that out because "we didn't feel the location was easy access,'' he said.

Of the 200 or so factories that operated during Tampa's cigar-making heyday between 1885 and the Great Depression, only about 25 survive. Vicente Martinez Ybor's original factory, rechristened Ybor Square and anchored until recently by a Spaghetti Warehouse, is now owned by the Church of Scientology. An engineering firm, Argosy University and Lions Eye Institute are among others that have repurposed factories for their own uses.

The extant factories "are important for the history of Tampa," Dennis W. Fernandez, manager of Tampa's historical preservation department, said for a story last year. "It was a major industry (that) brought a lot of attention to Tampa as the cigar capital of the world and caused further interest in bringing other (businesses) here to continue to grow Tampa at a critical time."

As for the factory that could soon be a hotel, will it have a cigar bar?

Desai said plans haven't gotten that far yet.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate

   
Comments
Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Saturday was Jacob Kosinski’s big day. His whole family, many from out of town, saw the Charleston, South Carolina, student graduate from his Christian-based homeschool program with a 4.89 grade point average and the coveted honor of summa cum laude....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Company with Tampa ownership to get new product — candy-like coffee thins — into Dunkin’ Donuts

Company with Tampa ownership to get new product — candy-like coffee thins — into Dunkin’ Donuts

TAMPA — Tampa-based private equity firm ProspEquity Partners paid $18.2 million less than three weeks ago for a two-thirds stake in Tierra Nueva, a Miami company with a new idea for coffee, and already it has some big news.Tierra Nueva’s "coffee thin...
Published: 05/22/18
It’s picking time at Brooksville blackberry farm, one of a handful in the region

It’s picking time at Brooksville blackberry farm, one of a handful in the region

BROOKSVILLE — Black follows blue in the berry patches of Hernando County, but blackberry proponents claim they’re worth waiting for.Today’s blackberry brambles are thornless and don’t require bending over to pick. Their fruits are mouth-full juicier,...
Published: 05/22/18
One of Ybor City’s most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

One of Ybor City’s most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

TAMPA — Developers are poised to launch construction this week on one of Ybor City’s biggest new projects in years — a four-story, $50 million boutique hotel being created by a Chicago company that seeks out neighborhoods rich in color and character....
Updated: 2 hours ago
Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor

Shoppers begin Publix boycott as chain continues supporting Adam Putnam for governor

Publix has been Florida’s favorite grocery chain for decades — but some shoppers are turning their backs on the store after learning it donated more than half a million dollars to gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam. A handful of state advocacy group...
Updated: 2 hours ago
FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

TALLAHASSEE — The parent company of Florida utility giant Florida Power & Light announced Monday that it will buy the largest electricity producer in Northwest Florida, Gulf Power, in a $6.4 billion deal.Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy Inc. said in a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

GasBuddy predicts plunge in summer travel, blames gas prices

At least one gas price tracker expects rising fuel prices to sharply curtail summer travel. "For all those that have said summer travel will be unaffected by high gas prices, we offer thousands of respondents who have strongly indicated that’s not tr...
Published: 05/21/18
Barack and Michelle Obama are becoming television and film producers for Netflix

Barack and Michelle Obama are becoming television and film producers for Netflix

Netflix announced a production deal Monday with Barack and Michelle Obama that will see the former first couple create a wide range of content for the streaming service.The deal, talks for which had first been reported in March, will encompass a wide...
Published: 05/21/18
Starbucks: You don’t have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks: You don’t have to buy coffee to sit in our cafes or use our restrooms

Starbucks is now allowing people to use its restrooms and sit in its cafes and patios even if they do not buy anything.The coffee giant on Saturday announced its new policy, which says that customers, including those who did not make a purchase, can ...
Published: 05/21/18

Hernando Business Digest for May 25

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL UPGRADES SURGICAL SYSTEM: Oak Hill Hospital recently acquired the latest da Vinci Xi Surgical System, which has broader capabilities than prior generations of the system. The new system is designed with the goal of furt...
Published: 05/21/18