Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Historic Belleview Biltmore's owners seek to demolish it

BELLEAIR — Owners of the Belleview Biltmore hotel have applied for a permit to raze most of the historic hotel.

"The building cannot be restored as a hotel according to hotel developers we have talked to across the country," the owners wrote on a form aiming to remove the town of Belleair's historic designation for the property.

The application packet, which was filed Friday afternoon, also includes a request to demolish the resort's cottages.

Local historian Michael Sanders was disturbed by the news but not surprised, since a representative for the owners had been touting plans to build townhomes on the site for months.

"That's very distressing," Sanders said. "I still think it could be a viable destination hotel."

Exactly how much of the hotel the owners plan to save is unclear. Matthew Cummings, a representative for the owner, said they hope to preserve a small part of the 115-year-old Biltmore, including the hotel's original lobby and the floor above it.

One of the forms submitted Friday says, "The configuration of the remaining structure is to be determined."

"As you're trying to preserve it, you may find there's parts you can't preserve," Cummings said.

The packet didn't include formal plans describing what the owners want to build on the property. One form lists "residential new construction" as the proposed use.

Cummings said they're still formalizing those plans. Last month, he said they may build as many as 180 townhomes or more there. On Monday he said they're still not sure how many homes they'll build or whether their plans will include condominiums.

The owner of the hotel is BB Hotel LLC, a group of Miami investors who bought the hotel and its assets for about $8 million about a year ago. Cummings has 3 percent interest in the company, according to documents filed at Town Hall.

The owners may have an uphill battle, even though many residents seem to have lost faith in the possibility of Biltmore's preservation.

In 2005, when the Biltmore was at risk of being destroyed, the town adopted a historic preservation ordinance to protect the hotel, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The ordinance puts a strong burden on the owner seeking to demolish a historic structure to show that all alternatives have been exhausted.

The town hasn't had a chance to review the application packet and officials are not sure if it's complete, said Town Manager Micah Maxwell. If not, officials will request additional information from the owners. The request to demolish the hotel and any other submissions will go before town boards first. So Town Commissioners may not make a decision until at least April.

And depending on what decision they make and what plans the owners submit for the property, a final decision on the Biltmore's fate could be months away.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155.

Comments
PolitiFact Florida: Does Andrew Gillum want to make Florida a sanctuary state?

PolitiFact Florida: Does Andrew Gillum want to make Florida a sanctuary state?

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is using the controversial topic of sanctuary cities to drum up Republican support in his bid for governor.At a campaign stop in Jacksonville, Putnam warned voters that one of his Democratic opponents want...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Hooper: Yacht StarShip weathers the storm

At the height of the economic downturn, Yacht StarShip owner Troy Manthey said he and his wife, Jill, worried about the company’s survival."We were counting ice cubes," Manthey said.But they made it. The dining cruise business that sails out of the C...
Updated: 11 hours ago
St. Pete takes small steps on the way to sustainability

St. Pete takes small steps on the way to sustainability

BY CHARLIE FRAGOTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — It was a big promise made by Mayor Rick Kriseman more than two years ago: Get the Sunshine City to eventually run on 100 percent renewable energy.In a few months, the city will take small but tangibl...
Published: 12/11/17
The Daystarter: No concession call in St. Pete mayor’s race; Bucs turn over another game; light shows get even fancier; Pinellas works to reduce 911 calls

The Daystarter: No concession call in St. Pete mayor’s race; Bucs turn over another game; light shows get even fancier; Pinellas works to reduce 911 calls

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.10News WTSPThe latest 7-day forecast•?It won’t be quite as chilly this morning, with lows in the 40s, according to 10Weather WTSP•?As you head out for your morning commute, che...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Sunny day floods become new norm

WASHINGTON — The tide watchers start patrolling whenever the celestial forces align. From coast to coast, hundreds of tide watchers come out with their cameras to record the latest ‘‘king tides,’’ brief episodes of tidal flooding that could become th...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tiny snowmen appear in Florida as Sunshine State gets snow

Tiny snowmen appear in Florida as Sunshine State gets snow

The "Welcome to Florida" sign in the northwest part of the state was covered in light snow as winter weather dipped into the Sunshine State. It was part of a winter storm that hit the Deep South over the weekend and left thousands of people without p...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida professional wrestler arrested, charged with battery of his wife, also a professional wrestler

Florida professional wrestler arrested, charged with battery of his wife, also a professional wrestler

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Wrestler Rich Swann is being held without bail in a Florida jail after he was arrested and charged with battery and false imprisonment. Swann, who is 26 and a former WWE cruiserweight champion, was arrested Saturday. According to ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Updated: 8 hours ago
Getting around Cuban customs control

Getting around Cuban customs control

HAVANA, CUBA — Ernesto Machado will never forget that cold morning in 1968 at José Martí International Airport in Havana, when an immigration official seized his parents’ gold wedding bands and ripped up his passport."This is property of the revoluti...
Updated: 9 hours ago