Board recommends Biltmore be torn down | story, Oct. 2
Belleair blew it; Tampa gets it
I sat through 5 ½ grueling hours of testimony from the applicant as it presented the case for tearing down the Belleview Biltmore Hotel. The applicant's testimony was presented to the so-called Historic Preservation Board. (Interesting to note that the applicant took up nearly four hours, and each resident was given three minutes to speak).
I believe that board member Peter Marich (the lone "no" vote on the board) said it best when he stated that just as the economic status became more feasible, the town elected to give the developer, JMC Communities/Mike Cheezem, a lock on the Biltmore property, discouraging any outside interest that may have saved and renovated our beautiful, historic White Queen. He further stated that no matter how respected the developer and his products, this would be just another condo project (instead of the priceless jewel we have now — my words).
The witnesses for the applicant based some of their findings on their opinions. When looking at the economic side of the equation, they considered only the room rates and none of the amenities that the hotel would offer. One only has to look at Tampa to see that folks want destination properties with character and history — for example, the old Water Works Building that is now honoring Florida history with Ulele restaurant, and the old downtown courthouse that is now Le Méridien Hotel.
Tampa gets it! The trend is to save these priceless structures for our future generations. So sad that our wonderful, unique town of Belleair should be changed forever because of the lack of foresight of our town leaders.
Politics as usual!
Karmen Hayes, Belleair