Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Potential buyer eyes historic Fenway as tai chi hub

Fenway Hotel used to be a hot spot for the rich and famous. It became the campus for Trinity Bible College in 1961, then Schiller in 1991. It is currently vacant.

JIM DAMASKE | Times (2011)

Fenway Hotel used to be a hot spot for the rich and famous. It became the campus for Trinity Bible College in 1961, then Schiller in 1991. It is currently vacant.

DUNEDIN — A representative of the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the United States of America says the organization is pursuing purchase of one of Pinellas County's iconic historic hotels, the Fenway in Dunedin.

Real estate broker Bill Sweetnam said the health and wellness society is in the "final throes" of contract negotiations with PNC Bank, which is foreclosing on the 6.4-acre waterfront property at 453 Edgewater Drive.

Sweetnam said the society intends to turn the property into a hotel and practice space for people attending workshops and formal instruction in tai chi, a centuries-old form of slow-moving, Chinese-influenced exercise.

The 50,000-member society's Toronto headquarters draws thousands of people a year from around the world, and the Fenway would similarly function as the society's U.S. hub, he said.

People "will come to the Fenway property, be able to stay at the hotel, attend workshops and avail themselves of everything else that the lovely city has to offer," said Sweetnam, a board member of the Dunedin tai chi branch.

Sweetnam wouldn't reveal the purchase price, but Loopnet.com lists the property at $3.9 million. He acknowledged that renovation of the long-vacant, 1920s Fenway could cost millions.

A sale would mark a victory for the bank and Fenway owner George Rahdert, who have been in foreclosure proceedings.

Rahdert, a St. Petersburg attorney who represents the Tampa Bay Times, purchased the hotel in 2006 from Schiller International University, planning to restore and expand it into a 132-room, high-end resort, but the project was derailed, in part because of the poor economy.

After PNC last year declared the unsecured, deteriorating property a "public safety hazard," a judge appointed a receiver to oversee upkeep.

Rahdert and the receiver, Bruce Keene of Tampa-based Franklin Street Management Services, said Wednesday that no one has submitted formal paperwork to buy the hotel. PNC Bank could not be reached late Wednesday for comment.

While the contract has not been signed by all parties, Sweetnam said "it's getting close," that "the deal points are pretty much settled" and that final terms are being ironed out. He acknowledged that the deal would likely take months to close.

Sweetnam has scheduled a meeting this month to discuss the society's vision for the property with city officials. Unlike Rahdert, he said, the society doesn't plan any additions.

The group chose Dunedin, he said, in honor of late International Taoist Tai Chi Society founder Master Moy Lin Shin, who years ago visited Tampa Bay and fell in love with the area.

City manager Rob DiSpirito said he's eager to hear the pitch: "We're always happy to sit down and listen to people. Stand by."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or ksummers@tampabay.com.

Potential buyer eyes historic Fenway as tai chi hub 07/10/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 10:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hurricane Maria's winds hit 175 mph as it aims at Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

    Hurricanes

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria barreled toward Puerto Rico on Tuesday night after wreaking widespread devastation on Dominica and leaving the small Caribbean island virtually …

    A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  2. Hillsborough School Board approves 2017-18 budget

    K12

    TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday approved a budget of $2.83 billion for the 2017-18 school year.

    Photo illustration. [iStockphoto.com]
  3. All Eyes photo gallery: 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 79, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 79 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped. The quake came less than two weeks after another quake left 90 dead in the country's south, and it …

    Rescuers work on a collapsed building on Amsterdam Avenue in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck, Sept. 19, 2017. Dozens have been reported killed across the country, including 42 in the state of Morelos, close to the epicenter of the quake, and at least 20 buildings in Mexico City have collapsed. (Adriana Zehbrauskas/The New York Times) XNYT169
  4. Rays video tribute to ex-manager Joe Maddon upon return with Cubs

    Blogs

    Here is the Rays video tribute to former manager Joe Maddon, who returned to the Trop for the first time on Tuesday with his Cubs team:

  5. After Irma disruption, Miami eager to face Toledo

    College

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — Like thousands of other evacuees, Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz headed north to escape Hurricane Irma with his family, two suitcases and the anxiety of not knowing what would happen to everything he left behind.

    Miami coach Mark Richt watches during a victory over B-CU in the Sept. 2 opener. The Hurricanes haven’t played since.