Hotel Owners Legg Mason to Hear From and Address Town Board and Council Regarding Variances
by Renee Burrell
BELLEAIR - The Town of Belleair Planning and Zoning Board will review the site plans and requests for variances submitted by the Belleview Biltmore Resort's current property owners, Legg Mason, on Monday May 12. The Belleair Town Council's regularly scheduled meeting will be held Tuesday, May 20.
The Planning and Zoning Board is a quasi-judicial body and members will make recommendations to the Town Council concerning variance requests needed to assist in renovating the hotel into a historical tourist destination with all of the luxury and conveniences expected of a five star resort.
Representatives from Legg Mason will give the Board a presentation at the meeting. Joseph Penner, Legg Mason Managing Director said, "We are thankful for all the positive support we have received within the community and we urge all of you who are interested to attend and speak out at the Town meetings in May."
Unlike previous owners, Legg Mason intends to invest millions of dollars into the 111- year- old hotel national registered as a Historic Place, with a historically sensitive and environmentally minded renovation plus usher the often called "White Queen of the Gulf" into the future with construction of a new "East Wing," two levels of subterranean parking, and a new, more grand and fitting entrance with lushly landscaped grounds. A few of the improvements to the resort call for needed variance approval:
- An increase in height from 32 feet to 60 feet for a new "East Wing" which will be shorter in length and have a smaller footprint than the staff quarters previously on the same site.
- An increase in height from 32 feet to 39.08 feet for a new spa structure.
- An increase of height from 32 feet to 40.33 for a new poolside café structure.
- Reduction in the dimension of parking spaces from 9 feet by 20 feet to 9 feet by 18 feet which is consistent with modern parking standards, and the cities of Clearwater, Dunedin, Largo and Tampa.
- Reduction in the number of required parking spaces from the Town of Belleair code of approximately 2075 spaces to 643 spaces. The parking proposed by Legg Mason is in excess of the suggested number of spaces determined by the parking demand study (Haas, April, 2008). It is consistent with municipal codes of cities that have other commercial developments. Specifically, Clearwater, Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg all take into consideration the "internal capture" of existing guests utilizing the hotel amenities, where the Bellaire code does not.
- Permit an accessory spa use to be located outside the primary structure within a separate building.
- Permit an accessory Poolside Café use to be located outside the primary structure of the main building. Historically, the Poolside Café has been a separate structure from the main hotel for many years.
The Resort's Golf Club will also be improved and current architectural plans call for the Town Council to approve three variances:
- Reduction in the dimension of parking spaces from 9 feet by 20 feet to 9 feet by 18 feet.
- Reduction in the number of parking spaces from approximately 274 spaces to 244 spaces.
- To reduce the landscape buffer requirement as follows; A. Along the west (front parking lot line) along Indian Rocks Road from landscape standard B to 5 feet on the subject site with an additional 5 feet within the right of way. The two 5 foot landscape strips will be located on either side of a sidewalk. Standard B requires between a 10 and 25 foot buffer; and B. Along the north and south front property line along Poinsettia and Althea roads, respectively, from landscape standard A to 0 feet on the subject site with 10 feet within the right of way. Standard A requires between 10 and 20 foot buffer.
According to Penner, "…the last twelve months have been a positive experience working together with; the citizens, the homeowners/condominium associations, the Belleair Country Club, the staff and the Town Council. The Association and the Country Club have provided great insight and ideas during the numerous meetings we've had the last several months. We continue to appreciate their efforts toward this project."
Belleair Country Club President James McArthur said he appreciates the perseverance and cooperative effort of Legg Mason and their team. "They continue to work with the community and the Club's leadership to resolve any outstanding issues."
Fast Facts about Belleair's Belleview Biltmore Resort & Spa:
- Built by railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant, the hotel opened in 1897.
- Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in December, 1979.
- Purchased by Legg Mason, June, 2007.
- Includes 176 rooms in the new "East Wing", 260 hotel rooms in the restored Biltmore and 12 rooms in the Magnolia and Palm Cottages
- 13,000-square-foot Tiffany Ballroom with magnificent original stained glass ceiling
- 140,000 square feet banquet and meeting room space
- 18,908 square foot full service spa with thirteen treatment rooms plus a fitness center, salon and aerobics room
- World class 18-hole Donald Ross designed golf course
- Cost of restoration project to exceed $100 million
- Projected grand reopening January, 2012 in time for the resort's 115 Year Anniversary
Fast Facts About the Hotel's Nationally Renowned New Owners, Legg Mason:
- Fortune ® Magazine's March 17, 2008 issue included its annual ranking of America's Most Admired Companies®. For the second consecutive year, Legg Mason ranked in the top 5 of the securities industry category.
- Part of publicly traded Legg Mason Inc., the world's fifth largest asset manager, with assets of more than $800-billion.