BELLEAIR — Buoyed by a Miami investment team's recent interest in the Belleview Biltmore Resort & Spa, the deputy mayor asked the town attorney to research tax incentives that Belleair could offer to redevelop the historic hotel.
"It's time that we do something that's proactive … so that a vehicle could be in place when a redevelopment team comes to town," Deputy Mayor Steve Fowler said during Tuesday night's town meeting.
Fowler's request came five days after an hourlong meeting of brothers Daniel and Raphael Ades, UBS International Financial Services investments vice president Bruno Miranda, Mayor Gary Katica and Town Manager Micah Maxwell. The brothers and Miranda flew in last Thursday to find out how the hotel property could be developed and what the community would allow.
"I started off the meeting by stating that the golf course is off the table completely," Katica told commissioners. "They agreed and said they want to enhance" the 136-acre golf course on Indian Rocks Road.
Ideas ranged from a boutique hotel with condos on the upper floors to an assisted living facility and a museum, Katica said.
The mayor's remarks didn't ease Belleair homeowner BonSue Brandvik's concerns.
"I'm still not convinced that the hotel is out of danger," said Brandvik, who sent out a flier late Tuesday urging residents to come to the town meeting. "I would hope that we as a town stand together and get a little bit more assurances that they (future owners) will restore this hotel and keep in mind its valuable, historical significance to Belleair."
Katica said he got no such assurance from Ades' team.
"I told them that if they came forth and said they were knocking the pagoda (entrance at the front of the Biltmore) down, they would get a standing ovation from the people of Belleair, " Katica said. "Past that, I said bring it to the people."
Despite Brandvik's reservations about the hotel, she said the deputy mayor's proactive stance encouraged her.
"It seems like up until now," she said, "all we've done is sit back and wait to be told what we're going to do."
Town attorney David Ottinger said he would look at tax credit programs in other cities and present them to commissioners for review.
"Rather than reinvent the wheel," Fowler said, "let's see what other folks are doing."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4167.