Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Developer gets approval to renovate Dunedin's Fenway Hotel

DUNEDIN — For decades, it was a lavish hotel, living out the Jazz Age on the shores of St . Joseph Sound.

It became a college. Then it emptied. Filled at times by private schools, it sat on Edgewater Drive a relic of years past.

Now, with final approval by the Dunedin City Commission, a local developer hopes to renovate the Fenway Hotel back to the former glory of its 1920s origins.

St. Petersburg attorney and developer George Rahdert said with a little work it could become a miniature version of the Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa or Renaissance Vinoy Resort, classic getaways on the National Register of Historic Places.

"For starters, they were all built in the same era," Rahdert said. "They all have the same grace and elegance. They all have the same potential."

The 5-acre property will feature at least 118 hotel rooms, a restaurant, a ballroom, a health spa, a pool and space for meeting and shops. The renovations will take "many millions of dollars" to implement, Rahdert said. But by the end of construction, the exterior, kept as close to its original yellow as possible, will remain the same.

Rahdert, who represents the St. Petersburg Times on First Amendment issues, has faced a number of obstacles in planning the renovation. His original plan, which included a two-floor parking garage and 250 rooms, was attacked by nearby home­owners for posing a possibly mammoth obtrusion to an otherwise quiet coast.

It's much smaller now — or, in Rahdert's hotel speak, "much more intimate." The compromise took more than three years of public discussion and work with the city. Rahdert said he also has included another change of plans to appease surrounding residents: a wall on all sides to keep in noise and lights.

City officials said Thursday they hope the jewel box hotel will entice tourists, travelers and their vacation spending to Dunedin's downtown and waterfront. A shuttle to Caladesi Island, a health club opened to local members and an ice cream shop may also attract local residents as well.

The Fenway needs a few more inspections and permits before crews will be able to begin work. Rahdert expects the four-star hotel could be open within 12 to 16 months. He has yet to set a price for the grandeur.

"To renovate it back to the days of old is something we really value," said Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers. "It's going to be a wonderful addition."

Drew Harwell can be reached at or (727) 445-4170.

Developer gets approval to renovate Dunedin's Fenway Hotel 08/21/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 21, 2009 8:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Authorities say cocaine is making comeback in Florida


    FORT LAUDERDALE — Drug enforcement officials say traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade.

    Traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade, officials say.  [Times files]
  2. Amid escalating Russia crisis, Trump considers major staff changes


    President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a "war room" within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a retooling of his senior staff. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
  3. Karen Lugo, 13, from Tampa, holds up her IPad Mini to take a picture of herself while relaxing in the sand alongside her mother, Karen Castro (on left), at the North Beach area of Fort DeSoto on Memorial Day (05/27/13). Karen comes to the beach with her family for holidays, she said. Also present was her older brother and three cousins.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose


    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  5. To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning


    ANNVILLE, Pa. — Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached — a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

    Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen, of Roseville, Calif., guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Friday, March 22, 1996, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. [Associated Press file]