Biltmore hotel owners want to tear it down - WFLA News Channel 8

Biltmore hotel owners want to tear it down

Posted: Updated:

The White Queen of the Gulf could come down. While preservationists continue their fight to try to save the Biltmore Hotel, the property's current owners are talking to Belleair town officials about tearing it down to build condos and townhouses.

"I guess it's a feeling of emptiness," said Belleair Mayor Gary Katica as he looked up at the building on a recent tour with News Channel 8.  "Presidents stayed here. Everybody came here to see it."

The hotel, built by railroad tycoon Henry Plant, opened to the public in 1897 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Now its signature green roof is torn apart. The Biltmore's windows are boarded up. The doors have remained locked to the public since the last guests checked out in 2009.

Nearly all of the furniture and fixtures were sold at auction.  Katica says the only valuable property still inside is the stained glass in the Tiffany ballroom.  After years of neglect, ceilings in other rooms are now covered in mold and the floors are crumbling.

Katica says the town loses about $800,000 in tax revenue and utility fees each year it sits empty.

"We've had to lay people off.  We've had to raise the millage rate for years," he explained.

Katica said he hopes an investor steps in soon to restore the property.

"That would be better for the town. That's what I'm most interested in is what's best for Belleair," said Katica.

He admits the prospects look bleak since it would cost more than $150 million to restore the hotel to its former glory.  Katica said residents in nearby condos regularly complain about the blight behind the tall chain link fence.

An attorney for the owners, the Ades Brothers, said they will meet with the Belleair Commission in October.  If they get a "favorable response" they plan to apply for a demolition permit.  Their plans calls for two high-rise condo buildings and 36 townhouses.

"I can't even imagine what it would be like without it," said Katica.  "You know, one thing you learn in life is it's a series of adjustments."

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Mortgage nightmare for Plant City couple

    Mortgage nightmare for Plant City couple

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-04-16 03:44:22 GMT
    Karl and Vicktoria Hanson thought their foreclosure nightmare was long over. It may be just beginning.
    Karl and Vicktoria Hanson thought their foreclosure nightmare was long over. It may be just beginning.
  • Bradenton massage therapist banned from contact with women by state

    Bradenton massage therapist banned from contact with women by state

    Tuesday, April 15 2014 5:03 PM EDT2014-04-15 21:03:21 GMT
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The order says Holmes "unrestricted practice as a massage therapist with female clients constitutes an immediate serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public
    The Florida Department of Health says it served licensed massage therapist Kevin Joseph Holmes, 60, with an emergency order Tuesday morning that bans him from working with female clients.The order says Holmes "unrestricted practice as a massage therapist with female clients constitutes an immediate serious danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the public
  • State takes emergency action against Bradenton massage therapist after 8 On Your Side investigation

    State takes emergency action against Bradenton massage therapist after 8 On Your Side investigation

    Monday, April 14 2014 7:09 PM EDT2014-04-14 23:09:06 GMT
    Kevin Holmes, massage therapistKevin Holmes, massage therapist
    According topolice records Kevin Holmes, age 60, toldinvestigators the client he gave a therapeutic massage to last month"was an attractive girl, plain and simple."It turns out she was also an off-duty detective, and Holmes said what he did to her was "absolutely inapproriate."
    According topolice records Kevin Holmes, age 60, toldinvestigators the client he gave a therapeutic massage to last month"was an attractive girl, plain and simple."It turns out she was also an off-duty detective, and Holmes said what he did to her was "absolutely inapproriate."
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.