Sunday, August 19, 2018
News Roundup

Restoration of historic Tampa courthouse as boutique hotel gets go-ahead

TAMPA — The City Council on Thursday approved a long-term lease that clears the way for Tampa's historic but vacant federal courthouse to be reborn as a boutique hotel.

"We're just really enthused about what we can make happen with this beautiful old courthouse," said Gary Prosterman, the owner and principal of Memphis-based Development Services Group, the lead company in the team chosen to restore the courthouse. "I think of all the real estate projects I've been involved in, this will be the most fun in terms of 'before' and 'after' photos."

Outside, the courthouse boasts three-story Corinthian columns at its front portico, tall windows and neoclassic design. Inside, it has courtrooms with ceilings nearly 20 feet high, oak trim, brass fixtures, ornate chandeliers and green-on-white marble wainscoting.

The 107-year-old courthouse on N Florida Avenue was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 but has been closed for about 14 years. The federal government deeded it to the city for $1 in 2003. Maintaining it requires the city to spend nearly $100,000 a year, mostly on air conditioning to limit mold.

Under the terms of the lease, construction will start Dec. 1 and end by May 31, 2014. The $25 million-plus construction project is expected to employ 425 workers, and the hotel is expected to have a staff of 100.

The hotel will pay the city rent of $1 a year for the first two years, $10,000 annually for years three through 30 and $15,000 a year for years 31 through 60. For the first 20 years, the operator will be required to run the hotel at least on a par with a three-star or three-diamond hotel as rated by a rating agency such as AAA. After that, the lease does allow some additional uses on the property, including offices, residences or a school.

Under no circumstances, however, can any part of the courthouse be used for a pool room, dance hall, pawn shop, gambling den, adult book store, second-hand store, illegal massage parlor, beauty school, barber college, auction house, flea market or church.

While a competing developer offered the city a cut of the hotel project's receipts, city officials said Prosterman's company has direct experience converting historic buildings into luxury hotels. In 2010, the company won the Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse for converting an old YMCA building into the four-star Le Meridien Hotel in Philadelphia.

"It was not money that was the deciding factor," city economic opportunity administrator Bob McDonaugh told council members. "It was the experience of the developer, someone who had done a similar project."

The council also approved:

• Spending $290,000 on temporary fencing and $516,200 on summer-weight khaki uniforms for police working outside the Republican National Convention.

• A resolution calling on the Legislature to repeal Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, which is at the center of the second-degree murder case of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman's fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.

• A special use permit to allow sales of beer, wine and liquor during events at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Nonprofit organizations can apply for permits to sell alcohol at events at the park, but city officials say the application process is cumbersome. Making it easier could help Curtis Hixon compete with big concert venues like Coachman Park in Clearwater and Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg. A final vote is scheduled May 3.

Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Comments
Tampa holds a birthday vigil for Lillia Raubenolt, the young girl killed on Bayshore

Tampa holds a birthday vigil for Lillia Raubenolt, the young girl killed on Bayshore

Somewhere Over the Rainbow was the first song Lillia Raubenolt’s parents sang to her as a newborn, according to her uncle, John Reisinger."They were just so happy when she was born," he said.But on May 23, while the family was visiting Tampa from Ohi...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
She would be 2 today

She would be 2 today

CreditLillia Raubenolt would have had her second birthday today. On May 23, while the family was visiting Tampa from Ohio, Lillia and her mother, Jessica Raubenolt, were struck and killed by a car as they legally crossed the road at the corner of Bay...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Man in Spring Hill airlifted to hospital with severe electrical burns

Man in Spring Hill airlifted to hospital with severe electrical burns

A man has been airlifted to a local hospital after suffering severe electrical burns while trimming trees in Spring Hill.In a release, Pasco County Fire Rescue said the man was working on a lift and was airborne in the 18000 Block of Skinner Dr. in S...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays finish trip with 2-0 shutout of Red Sox

Rays finish trip with 2-0 shutout of Red Sox

BOSTON – The Rays always seem to find a way to make things interesting.Sunday, they did so by shutting down and shutting out the majors-best Red Sox in a 2-0 matinee win to cap a winning three-city road trip.Five Rays pitchers combined to blank...
Updated: 2 hours ago
After #MeToo, Kevin Spacey movie ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ earns $126 on opening day

After #MeToo, Kevin Spacey movie ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ earns $126 on opening day

Sometime over the weekend, a moviegoer at the Deer Valley Cinema in Antioch, California, forked over $9 to sit in an otherwise empty theater - unwittingly becoming a solitary, popcorn-chomping symbol of just how forcefully the .MeToo movement has roc...
Updated: 2 hours ago
North Carolina fugitives, charged with shooting at cops, found and arrested in Treasure Island

North Carolina fugitives, charged with shooting at cops, found and arrested in Treasure Island

TREASURE ISLAND — Two men on the run from law enforcement in North Carolina were found hiding in Treasure Island — armed with an AR-15, a machete and a pipe bomb, deputies said — leading to a standoff with a SWAT team that ended early Sunday morning....
Updated: 3 hours ago
Clearwater police: Truck flips on U.S. 19, killing 40-year-old driver

Clearwater police: Truck flips on U.S. 19, killing 40-year-old driver

CLEARWATER — A 40-year-old man died after flipping his truck on U.S. 19 early Sunday morning, police reported.About 3:02 a.m., Michael Bellavia, 40, of Clearwater, was heading northbound on the highway, exiting at NE Coachman Road, according to the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
DeCalon Brooks ready to make a name for himself at Florida State

DeCalon Brooks ready to make a name for himself at Florida State

TALLAHASSEE — DeCalon Brooks doesn't only want to be known as Derrick Brooks' son.Yes, he plays the same position (linebacker) at the same school (Florida State) where his Hall of Fame father won a national title before becoming a Bucs leg...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Police: Driver, 26, goes wrong way on Courtney Campbell, dies after car flips into water

Police: Driver, 26, goes wrong way on Courtney Campbell, dies after car flips into water

CLEARWATER — A 26-year-old died after heading the wrong way on the Courtney Campbell Causeway and falling into the water early Sunday morning, police reported.About 4:13 a.m., Scott Anthony Wolf, 26, of Lee County, was driving a 2004 Chrysler Crossfi...
Updated: 5 hours ago
NFL preseason update: How some former Bulls fared in Week 2

NFL preseason update: How some former Bulls fared in Week 2

A look at how some former USF standouts performed in Week Two of the NFL preseason:RB Quinton Flowers, BengalsWeek One (vs. Bears): One carry, 6 yardsWeek Two (vs. Cowboys): No statsLB Nigel Harris, BucsWeek One (vs. Dolphins): Three tackles (two sol...
Updated: 5 hours ago