BELLEAIR — A town advisory board recommended via a 5-1 vote Tuesday that town commissioners approve a developer's push to tear down the former Belleview Biltmore hotel and redevelop the property into a replica inn, condos and townhomes.
For nearly six hours, Belleair's Historic Preservation Board heard testimony from witnesses for developer JMC Communities; Friends of the Belleview Biltmore, a preservation advocacy group that opposes redevelopment; and residents who spoke both for and against JMC's application.
Board member Peter Marich cast the lone vote against JMC's request for a special certificate of appropriateness, which would give the firm permission to raze the Biltmore on grounds that restoration is too costly and unlikely to thrive under modern market standards. Board member Alex Chamberlain was absent.
Belleair's Planning and Zoning Board will give its recommendation on JMC's rezoning request and development agreement Monday. The Town Commission holds public hearings Oct. 27 and Nov. 13.
The outcome could spell a new era for the deteriorating 1890s hotel, known as the "White Queen of the Gulf." It hosted presidents, celebrities and generations of Pinellas County residents and guests before closing in 2009.