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Belleair Bee
Cabana restaurant sold for $2.1 million
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Photo by BRIAN GOFF
The Cabana Restaurant and Grille on Sand Key sold for $2.1 million and is no longer part of the Belleview Biltmore hotel.
CLEARWATER – The Cabana Restaurant and Grille on Sand Key is under new ownership.

For months as the debate over the fate of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel raged on, talk also centered on the Belleview Biltmore Golf Course and the Cabana property.

The Ades brothers of Miami owned all three properties and they were linked by liens placed on them by the town of Belleair because of the owners’ inaction in cleaning up the deteriorating state of the hotel.

On at least two occasions the owners appeared before the Town Commission requesting that the liens be lifted from the Cabana property and the golf course. They pointed out that the hotel was the unkempt property, not the others. Commissioners repeatedly refused, suggesting that the only leverage they had to get the more than $260,000 in fines paid was to keep the liens on all three properties.

The logjam was broken when the owners threatened to foreclose on the mortgage, thus rendering the liens worthless. The town quickly moved to buy the golf course and agreed to drop the liens on it and the restaurant and grille. Once that happened negotiations were begun for the Cabana property and on Dec. 31 the deal was closed.

Tampa Developer Brian Taub bought the property for $2.1 million. He said it ended a year of interest on his part.

“I first looked at it a year ago in January,” he said. “I made an offer but was informed in February that they decided not to go ahead with the sale.”

Taub said he was told in October that the property was for sale again and he began negotiations, which lasted through November until the deal was complete. He said he could only speculate why the Ades brothers didn’t want to sell back in February, a year ago.

Taub said even if they had kept the Cabana property on the market, he would not have bought it with the lien still in force.

“Whatever clouded the title it had to be removed prior to closing,” he said. “I was not interested in buying the property until everything was removed.”

With the Cabana property now sold for $2.1 million, and the sale of the golf course for $3.5 million almost complete, the Ades brothers will have gotten back $5.6 million of their $8 million investment in the three properties, which they purchased back in 2011.

The status of the hotel remains murky. Architect Richard Heisenbottle of South Florida remains in play as a potential buyer but so far has had difficulty raising the money necessary for the purchase and eventually refurbishment of the structure.

The Ades brothers meantime have indicated they are ready to demolish the building and Belleair Town Manager Micah Maxwell says their last demolition application lacked only the site plans for what they plan to put on the property. They have indicated that they will build townhouses there.

As for the Cabana property on Sand Key, Taub, the developer, says it will be demolished to make way for 23 condos he plans to build on the site. His new building will be six stories over parking. He said the new structure will not look anything like the Cabana Restaurant and Grille or the neighboring Cabana Club Condominiums. He plans to begin pre-sales in February and pending city approval will begin construction sometime this summer.

The president of the Cabana Club Condos, Vince Nauss, said the new plans are encouraging.

“We were hoping something positive would be developed there,” he said. “It has been a sore spot to see that building sit there and deteriorate. It cast a negative image on the Cabana Club Condos.”

Nauss said the property was commonly called the Cabana Club and people often got it confused with their condo next door. Both complexes were built to look like the Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Belleair.

Nauss said Taub has worked closely with them and has had several meetings telling them what he has in store.

“We have unique issue with him because our property and his abut and there are things, such as some wiring and piping that we share with him,” he said. “We need to work hand in hand during demolition to make sure our building is protected. It is a very involved and very unique situation.”

In Belleair Town Manager Maxwell said he believes the sale of the Cabana has little to do with the fate of the hotel.

“It is hard to quantify what the club would have meant to the hotel,” he said. “I tend to believe the golf course has a significantly bigger impact. The hotel owners could force a relationship with a beachfront property to be able to offer guests that amenity. They don’t need to own the Cabana property.”

Maxwell said there was no doubt the threat to foreclose was aimed at being able to sell the other properties.

“Their reason for the foreclosure was to try to sell the Cabana Club and eventually the golf course. That is why we had to do something because when they foreclosed the Cabana Club would have been sold anyway.

Maxwell expects final closing on the sale of the golf course will be Feb. 8.
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