Belleview-Biltmore Hotel


Belleview-Biltmore Hotel

The Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa is a large historic hotel located in Belleair, Florida, located off State Road 699. It is one of the oldest structures of significance in the Tampa Bay area and was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on December 26, 1979.

The large 820,000 square foot (76,000 m²) hotel was built in 1897 by railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant. It is the last remaining grand historic hotel from its period in Florida that exists as a resort, and the last standing hotel constructed by Plant still in use as a resort. The building is noted for its architectural features, with its unique green sloped roof and white wood sided exterior, and extensive hand crafted woodwork and Tiffany glass inside. It is said to be the largest occupied wood frame structure in the world, and is constructed of native Florida pine wood.

The hotel is situated on Clearwater Bay, with views of the bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The hotel property at large consists of over convert|160|acre|ha|0, including swimming pools, a beach club, restaurant, and a golf course. The hotel itself is located on 20.203 acres and has ballroom facilities and is a popular location for weddings and other gatherings.

The Belleview Biltmore has hosted many famous people, dignitaries and world leaders through the years, including U.S. Presidents George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Duke of Windsor, and celebrities such as Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.

The hotel is thought by some to be the site of ghost sightings and other paranormal events. The Hotel was featured in a segment on the Weird Travels series on the U.S. TV network The Travel Channel, which was filmed in March 2004 by Authentic Entertainment.

History

1897–1942

The Belleview Hotel, as it was initially known, was constructed by Henry B. Plant as a resort destination to boost tourist travel on his railroad line serving the west coast of Florida, which he had acquired in 1893 as part of his expanding Plant System network of railroads. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which eventually absorbed the Plant System lines, continued to operate the "Pinellas Special" train from New York City to a siding on the hotel's property in the 1920s. [William Kratville, "Steam, Steel & Limiteds". Omaha: Barnhart Press, 1962.]

World War II and the Post–War Years

During World War II, the hotel served as lodging for servicemen who were stationed at Macdill Air Force Base in Tampa. In the 1970s and 1980s, the aging hotel began to decline as changing travel patterns and intensified competition from newer beachfront motels caused significant losses.

A Japanese company, Mido Development, purchased the hotel in 1991 and made many repairs and additions, including a new spa area and entrance, later selling the property to hotelier Salim Jetha in 1997.

The current owners of the hotel are Urdang and Associates and Belleview Biltmore Resort, Ltd. Infobox nrhp
name = Belleview Biltmore Hotel



caption =
location = Clearwater, Florida
area =
added = December 26, 1979
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body =

In late 2004, DeBartolo Development Group offered to purchase the property to demolish the hotel structure and replace it with retail shopping and condominiums. The proposal was withdrawn in January 2005, however, after public outrage over the plan, the developers citing lack of public support. However, in April 2005, published reports said that the DeBartolo group was once again planning to purchase the hotel, and had it under contract with Urdang and Associates, raising concerns among historic preservationists when it was disclosed that DeBartolo had filed a demolition permit application with the Town of Belleair to demolish the Belleview Biltmore.

Neither Pinellas County nor the Town of Belleair, where the hotel is located, have the legal authority to block the demolition of the building, leading to calls by preservationists for the passage of measures to protect historic structures. Although Belleair does have a Historic Preservation Board, it has no authority to prevent demolition.

Preservationists have argued that hotels of similar age have been successfully restored while offering updated services and amenities, citing the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan, the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, and the Williamsburg Inn in Williamsburg, Virginia, as examples.

On March 9, 2007, the St. Petersburg "Times" reported that Legg Mason had entered into a purchase contract for the hotel, with the intent of preserving it. [Rita Farlow, St. Petersburg Times, March 9, 2007. "Executives with Legg Mason Real Estate Investors would not disclose the proposed purchase price or the closing date, but said in a written statement they had a contract to buy the resort and intend to preserve the 110-year-old hotel."]

References

External links

* [http://www.belleviewbiltmore.com Belleview Biltmore Official Site]
* [http://www.savethebiltmore.com Save The BiltmorePreservation Website]
* [http://www.nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com/FL/Pinellas/state.html Pinellas County listings at National Register of Historic Places]
* [http://www.flheritage.com Florida's Office of Cultural and Historical Programs]
** [http://www.flheritage.com/facts/reports/places/index.cfm?fuseaction=ListAreas&county=pinellas Pinellas County listings]
** [http://www.flheritage.com/services/sites/fht/record_t.cfm?ID=729&type=c&index=52 Belleview-Biltmore Hotel]


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