Tampa has been enjoying something of a renaissance of late, with a variety of shops and restaurants investing in the city's once-threadbare downtown. This weekend's long-awaited reopening of the historic Floridan Palace hotel will be one of the brightest of the jewels in the downtown's slow but steady rebirth. Led by developer Antonios Markopoulos, the hotel has been meticulously restored to its original glory, recalling the days when the Floridan was the centerpiece of Tampa social life and hosted luminaries from Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart to Elvis Presley.
Built in 1926, the building had fallen into disrepair by 1987 and was shuttered. Markopoulos has updated the amenities in the hotel's 196 rooms and two penthouse suites, painstakingly restoring the artistry of the Floridan's elegant and ornate lobby and the famous Sapphire Room bar just in time for the coming Republican National Convention.
Just as the renovation of the Vinoy Hotel after decades of neglect helped re-energize St. Petersburg, the Floridan Palace is poised to become a destination point for downtown Tampa. New landmarks are nice, but so are well-preserved familiar ones that remind us of our history and other prosperous eras.