Make us your home page
Instagram

Sad hotel turns into gay resort, the Flamingo, on 34th Street S

ST. PETERSBURG — Neighbors had complained about the eyesore at the entrance to their waterfront community. A once proud hotel, it had deteriorated into a haven for drugs and prostitutes, and last fall, it was shut down by the city.

Then new owners David Reinhardt and David Baker came along. More than a million dollars later, the place gleams. There's fresh paint, new tile, carpet and furniture. The 77,000-gallon kidney-shaped pool — overlooked by balconies and a recently built cabana bar — has water again. A white fence, rising 6 to 8 feet and softened with shrubbery, ensures privacy and security.

An understated sign announces the new name, the Flamingo. A Web site gives more details, saying it's the area's newest exclusively gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender luxury resort. Also, says Baker, it is the largest in the Southeast. Today marks the grand opening.

Some neighbors have reservations about the gay-themed resort, but others are relieved that the property at 4601 34th St. S no longer is a blight in the community, where the asking price for homes can soar to more than $1 million.

"We welcome any kind of legitimate business that's going to keep the place looking nice,'' said Tom Ando, president of the Broadwater Civic Association. "That place was a dump . . . We're lucky that these guys came in and put their hard-earned dollars into it.''

Business partners Reinhardt, 39, and Baker, 43, took ownership of the former JMS Hotel in April and began improvements soon after. "I wanted fresh, bright and clean,'' said Baker, sitting in the hotel's video and sports bar with its cool blues, warm whites, mirrored wall and acrylic paintings of buff men by local artist John Kohlburn.

Female impersonator Bobby York — a stage name — has been hired to direct the Saturday night shows. "I'm a Cher impersonator. She is one of eight characters I do,'' said York, 46, a horticulturist whose day job is an assistant in Pinellas County school classrooms.

Reinhardt and Baker say transforming the rundown property was made easier with help from the city. The former JMS Hotel made news last fall when city officials declared it unsafe for the more than a dozen families, including 24 children, who made it their home. The hotel's electricity had been shut off because of unpaid bills, and the water was about to be turned off. While the residents found places to live with help from city and county social services agencies, the property, which had been going through foreclosure proceedings, appeared destined to sit empty into the foreseeable future.

For that reason, when Baker and Reinhardt announced plans to renovate it, the city supported the project, Deputy Mayor Dave Metz said.

"We knew that these are tough economic times,'' he said. "We gave them a little extra effort and attention. It's very nice to see this project come to fruition.''

The place needed plenty of work, some of it unanticipated. To save money, the new owners decided to subcontract the work themselves, said Gary Bush, operations manager for the city's codes compliance assistance department.

"And that's quite a feat. I got in at that point and assisted to manage that,'' he said. "They are a great bunch of people and they responded to everything the city asked them to do.''

The new hotel will fill the void left by the Suncoast Resort, which served the same clientele and closed in 2007, Baker said.

While it is geared toward gays, Baker added, "We also want our neighbors to come here and have lunch. We definitely see this as a venue for the community. We're here for the long haul.''

The Broadwater Civic Association is relieved. "Think back to last year at this time and remember the way the property looked and did business,'' Ando wrote in the neighborhood's recent newsletter. "We are fortunate that the change has come so quickly considering the state of the economy.''

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2283.

If you go

Flamingo Resort

Ribbon cutting, 3 p.m. today, contests, giveaways and entertainment, Flamingo Resort, 4601 34th St. S, St. Petersburg. Go online to flamingofla.com or call (727) 321-5000.

Sad hotel turns into gay resort, the Flamingo, on 34th Street S 08/29/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 29, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Aramis Ayala defends stance against death penalty: 'I did what I believe was proper'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Aramis Ayala, the elected Orlando prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty, defended her actions Wednesday as she faced a flurry of hostile questions from Florida Supreme Court justices.

    Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Tampa Chamber of Commerce offers boost to black and Hispanic-owned businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — There's a disconnect in Hillsborough County's minority business community.

    Gaston Meredith of Gaston's Culinary Services listens to LaKendria Robinson, Director of Minority Business Accelerator & Economic Inclusion during an information session at the Robert W. Saunders Library in Tampa on Tuesday.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Wesley Chapel, Greater Pasco chambers of commerce merge

    Business

    LAND O'LAKES — Two chambers of commerce representing more than 850 business members from west Pasco to Wesley Chapel and New Tampa are merging into a single organization.

    Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Hope Allen will lead the combined chambers of commerce announced Wednesday. The yet-to-be-named chamber will represent more than 850 businesses that currenlty are members of the Greater Pasco and Greater Wesley Chapel chambers.
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  4. Sign up for our new daily News at Noon email newsletter

    News

    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  5. Bitcoin, ransomware fraudster Anthony Murgio of Tampa sentenced to prison

    Business

    Tampa's Anthony Murgio, 33, was sentenced Tuesday to 5-1/2 years in prison for running a bitcoin exchange suspected of laundering money for a group of hackers who targeted publishing and financial firms as part of a complex securities fraud.

    Anthony Murgio of Tampa, 33, was sentenced Tuesday to 5 1/2 years in prison for running a Bitcoin exchange suspected of laundering money for a group of hackers who targeted publishing and financial firms as part of a complex securities fraud. [AP photo]