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Should Historic Biltmore Be Saved?

Developers plan to demolish the grand hotel, but promise to build town homes and condos in a Queen Anne style.

There has been momentum locally to preserve the grand old hotel, a relic of Old Florida and a grand past.
There has been momentum locally to preserve the grand old hotel, a relic of Old Florida and a grand past.
The historic Biltomore Hotel – with its Tiffany glass and original Florida pine floors – may be worth more as rubble than as a local landmark.

The proposed developers of the 160-acre waterfront property came before the Belleair Commission on Aug. 6 with a clear message for local leaders: The 1897 hotel, built by Henry Plant, is not worth the price of preserving.

Instead, they proposed a residential development of town homes and condominiums at 25 Belleview Boulevard, according to TBNWeekly.com

(A group called Save the Biltmore posted this accompanying YouTube video in 2012.)

Although the large hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the recognition will not prevent it from being demolished. It sits on prime real estate that has sweeping views of Old Clearwater Bay.

The developer presented an idea of building the homes in a Queen Anne style as a nod to the history of the site. But the hotel, with its green sloping roofs, would be bulldozed.

Commissioners said they want to preserve at least a portion of the old hotel.

City leaders also complained about overall poor upkeep of the property by the developers, including failure to keep up with landscaping, and broken fencing around the property.

Despite its current state of neglect, the old hotel is filled with history. Built by Henry Plant, it has hosted dignitaries and celebrities through the years, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth.

The commission will take up the issue again at its next meeting.
Opinionated...sometimes August 14, 2013 at 10:06 AM
Yes Henry, once again we see how YOU see it and we don't. We love this area, we love old buildings and across the country some pretty dilapidated buildings have been restored and not torn down. Its all in what you want. We would love to see this building saved -you want it torn down. Again we agree to disagaree. We get it! Have a wonderful day
Jimmy p August 14, 2013 at 10:10 AM
We have rebuilt towns and cities. One building can be done.
Henry Kulesza August 14, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Opinionated, No, you don't get it! You are not reading my posts correctly. I never said I wanted it torn down, in fact I said I would hate to see it torn down but I know that is not what is going to happen. Please re-read my posts. I'm looking at this from a realistic view, not from a view of a dreamer. I do have a right to my opinion... or maybe I don't! Jimmy p.. "We have rebuilt towns and cities." Just who is we? You and who else? Who do you think is going to take on the restoration project? Sure, it can be done but it won't be done. Are you willing to bet even just a $100 of your own money that this hotel will be restored? I'm willing to bet that it won't. I'm sure you're not willing to take that bet, but you expect others to spend half a billion dollars or more to save a crumbling mess. I believe the current owners did what they could to make this building as unrestorable as possible so they could move forward with what they had intended to do originally. They said they expected the project to be completed and ready for a grand opening in January of 2012. Oops, surprise, they missed their deadline by just a bit.
Opinionated...sometimes August 14, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Thank you Henry for all your insight. As I said different strokes for different folks. I am done commenting on this and wishing you a beautiful day! AMEN

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