The two lawsuits that
were filed in order to help save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel
have been voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs. They
were both initially filed in January 2015. The reason for these
dismissals is that most of the hotel unfortunately has been
demolished. Please note that the Belleview Biltmore WAS
saved in 2007 when an investment/realtor company purchased the
hotel and had grand plans to restore it. However, due to a
number of factors including private Belleair citizens filing
lawsuits to protest certain building designs resulting in a
delay and then the Great Recession of 2008, the investor lost
its mortgage. They sold to a company at a huge loss, whose
purpose was to resell it at a huge profit. They never had
any plans to restore it.
After the hotel was closed in 2009,
and the contents sold off by the 2007 realtor/investor in 2009, the Town of Belleair
never fully enforced their Historic Preservation Ordinance (a
LAW) that they passed in 2005, especially the "demolition by
neglect" portion. As a result the former
owners allowed the hotel to deteriorate in the rain, wind and
outdoor elements: Belleair officials just STOOD BY AND DID
NOTHING TO STOP THE DETERIORATION except some worthless daily
fines that the owner legally maneuvered themselves out of.
So the Belleview Biltmore appearance continued to deteriorate
making it more difficult for an investor to purchase the hotel,
even though the hotel was able to be restored. Therefore
the Town of Belleair broke the clause in their law "DEMOLITION
BY NEGLECT." They never enforced their own town code like
they would have made home owners repair their roofs for example
or lawns being cut etc.
When the condominium
leaders around the Biltmore saw the deterioration, and potential
loss of their property value, they started
pressuring Mayor Gary Katica to tear the hotel down. Mayor Katica
CAVED in as did his other Commissioners to vote to ultimately
allow the demolition. The condo leaders failed to
properly announce meetings for the condominium residents, and
there was NEVER a formal paper vote among condominium owners to
see if each and everyone wanted to tear down the hotel!
Condominium owners wrote to us at
Save the Biltmore complaining that they no one ever told them the new condo
towers would be as high as 80 foot tall obstructing precious views! No
one ever told them this new condo project would taken ten years to complete!
There were only scattered and many times unannounced meetings by the condo
leaders; all designed by the condo leaders to demolish the Biltmore by NOT
giving truthful information or taking a formal vote.
With so much pressure on Mayor Katica
from the condo board leaders, he gave in from political pressure, in order
to be re-elected which he was in 2015. This led the way for demolition
of the Belleview Biltmore.
The Belleair Country Club also
wanted condominiums built in place of the Biltmore so they could
increase their membership which was falling because more people
are NOT playing golf and not joining country clubs. By
having more condominiums in place of the Biltmore, this would increase the
population of wealthier people who could join the Belleair Country Club
making it more financially successful.
By the way, the current owner Mike Cheezem
of JMC Communities
is a member of the Belleair Country Club.
What are the chances of Mr. Cheezem saving
the measely 10% of the Biltmore anyway? He says a lot of things. For
example he promised that he would save part of the wonderful historic
Clearwater Beach Hotel, and yet he failed to do so. He has stated that he
has respect for the history behind these wonderful structures, and yet he
continues to work to tear them down. Mr. Cheezem originally said that even
saving a tiny portion of the Biltmore is not even possible but his current
comments appear to be just a "bait and switch" for him to continue his
Already walls and a fire escape have fallen
through the roof of the historic beautiful Carriage Porch into its interior.
Mr. Cheezem said he would save the Carriage Porch and move it to form part
of his boutique hotel. We wonder at this point if saving the
broken down Porch is even possible at this point. The disregard for
the porch roof shows his disdain for saving parts of the hotel.
Now that Mr. Cheezem has the approval of
Belleair Commissioners to demolish the Belleview Biltmore, why should he
keep his word to save any part of it? It will be just an added expense
and time. What would motivate him to do so?
Rick Gonzalez, an architect,
known for his historic renovation, recently sent an email to
wing will not survive a rotation and
a relocation. It will most likely
collapse and eventually a small
replica of a building will be built
and after a few years of losing
money it will be converted into a
clubhouse for the condos. I don't
see a five story building rotation
and 550 ft moving working."
A TV segment on local NBC news
showed photos taken by a drone of the current "state" of
the semi demolished Biltmore. The woman representing JMC
Communities and Mike Cheezem made some most insulting
and arrogant comments about what the original builder of
the hotel, Henry Plant, might have said with the new
development. We will not quote her, however, our
view is that Mr. Plant would be horrified at the
mutilation done by these financially-crazed developers
to the historic and beautiful 1897 Belleview Biltmore
Hotel, the White Queen of the Gulf.