Redevelopment of Biltmore Properties Anticipated by Owners and Community
By Renee Burrell
Photo courtesy of Legg Mason Real Estate Investors, Inc
BELLEAIR - Owners of the Belleview Biltmore Resort & Spa, Legg Mason Real Estate Investors, Inc. (LMREI) filed a formal application with the Town of Belleair December 20 for final approval of the proposed renovations for the historic 111-year-old hotel. Extensive upgrades to enhance the property will attempt to keep the property's original Victorian style intact. More green space, a new health spa and tennis courts along with a period lobby, larger rooms, and underground parking are being added to bring the resort up to 5-star status.
Joseph Penner, LMREI Managing Director, stated that he is extremely pleased that the formal process for final approval of the redevelopment is now underway. "We have had literally dozens of meetings with our neighbors and other members of the community, as well as our state and local government officials, and have to the fullest extent possible incorporated their recommendations. This plan is truly a community effort and product."
The resort located at 25 Belleview Blvd., was built in 1896 by railroad baron Henry Plant. American icons Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, and Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush plus numerous international figures have been guests. Legg Mason paid $30.3-million for the historic landmark in June 2007. Renovations are expected to begin in 2009 and be completed in 2011. Costs for the redevelopment are projected to reach or exceed $100 million.
Starting with an impressive entry featuring new landscaping and removal of the Japanese pagoda at the current front entrance, designs concerning the main structure of the hotel call for restoration of 256 hotel rooms, five ballrooms, meeting rooms, restaurants and retail shops. Three Victorian cottages on the property will also be restored.
Amid the new construction up for approval is the construction of an architecturally consistent 174-room "annex hotel" to be built next to the main structure, a new one story spa facility with underground parking and new tennis courts.
Offsite, the resort's Pelican Golf Club on Indian Rocks Road will be improved with landscaping and parking grounds also undergoing makeovers.
At the time of this writing LMREI had not filed a formal application for major redevelopment with the City of Clearwater specifying final renovation plans for the resort's Cabana Club beach property located on Sand Key.
But at a Belleair town meeting last September when LMREI presented their initial plans, they proposed an eight-story hotel housing 57 units, a new pool and cabanas to be constructed on the site with a shuttle boat service to take guests from property to property across Clearwater Harbor.
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