Editor: Word is out that the Belleview Biltmore Hotel is going to be demolished.
But as Mark Twain reportedly said when he heard he had died, “The rumor of my demise is greatly exaggerated.” The 125-year-old White Queen of the Gulf was here before us and will be here long after you and I are gone.
Why do I think so? Because the Historic Preservation Ordinance is in place to protect the hotel; most residents of the RPD and of Belleair would rather have a finely restored hotel on the property than 150 townhomes or condos; the commissioners know that a restored hotel will be a faster, richer path to revenue for the town than any multi-family residential development.
Need more? According to engineers, architects, and other professionals, the structure is sound and restorable; strategic studies indicate the business would be viable; and finally there are investors interested in purchasing and restoration now that the economy has improved.
The Belleview Biltmore Hotel is the reason for the town of Belleair; it is a national historic treasure belonging to Pinellas County, the Tampa Bay region, and all of America, not just to us locals. The sooner the current owners, attorney, and housing developers face up to reality, and the commission holds firm on its commitment to save the hotel, the sooner restoration can begin.