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June 28, 2017
‘The White Queen of the Gulf'

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Part of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel has been preserved.

Florida Originals

‘The White Queen of the Gulf'

Art Levy | 1/26/2017

The Belleview Biltmore Hotel was built near the Gulf in northern Pinellas County in 1897 by railroad tycoon Henry Plant, one of a string of palaces linked to northern visitors by his railroad. Post-Plant, the hotel endured an evolving tourism market and a parade of owners. None were able to make the hotel a viable business, and the hotel fell into disrepair and closed in 2009. Mike Cheezem, head of JMC Communities, wasn’t the first developer to come forward with a plan that combined demolition, redevelopment and preservation, but he’s the only one who has been able to make it happen. Other attempts failed amid strong opposition from historic preservationists, including members of the Save the Biltmore group, who wanted the entire structure saved and operated as a hotel, a restoration project that appraisers estimated would have cost $200 million.

Cheezem’s plans include 132 condos and townhomes on the site and the preservation of a 38,000-sq.-ft. portion of the hotel, including the original lobby, which will be converted into a 35-room hotel to be called the Belleview Inn.

ALSO IN THIS ARTICLE: Mayor Gary Kadica; Diane S. Hein; Save the Biltmore

 

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