For years there has been controversy in the town of Belleair. Should its most well known landmark, the 119-year-old Belleview-Biltmore Inn be renovated or razed? The answer was somewhere in the middle and it will be required to move.
"The center of our project. Everything will be built around the hotel," said Steve Wood, project manager for JMC Design and Development.
But first, the historic landmark will be moved 320 feet. A process that involves 47 high-tech dollies that will be synchronized so the building will be moved in a level manner to its new foundation.
"The move in itself is over a million dollars," Wood said.
The centerpiece of a luxury residential development that includes mid rise condominium buildings and two-story townhomes. The hotel will be renovated into a 35-room boutique inn.
Groundbreaking on one of the four, 26 residence buildings and the carriage home project will happen tomorrow morning. The historic move of the inn will begin in the next ten days.
"Probably could have built a replica for less money but with the historic value it just made sense to do it this way," Wood said.
Built in 1897 by railroad magnate Henry Plant, the iconic hotel was often billed as the world's largest occupied wooden structure, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Its guest list included Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Bob Dylan, Margaret Thatcher and Barack Obama.
The hotel's fate was sealed when owners sold off the golf course and waterfront property to pay bills. The number of guests plunged, the rambling structure fell into disrepair and JMC Communities bought it last year for $6.2 million.