An ambitious plans to restore the once-threatened Belleview Biltmore Resort and Spa to its former grandeur got under way this week. A $100 million project aimed at preserving the 110-year-old landmark and its Victorian charm started Wednesday night. The Belleview Biltmore is set on a 22-acre site along the eastern shores of Old Clearwater Bay with views of the bay and the barrier islands.
Constructed of native Florida pine wood, the hotel was built in 1897 by railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant, and until just a couple years ago this was the only remaining Henry Plant hotel still in operation. Although, iIt was said to be the largest occupied wood frame structure in the entire world but even that wasn’t enough to save this 820,000 square foot resort & spa.
JMC Communities purchased the resort earlier this year for $6.2-million and plans to preserve 10% of the original structure which will house a 33-room boutique inn with an ice cream parlor, a bar, and room for weddings and functions.
As for the rest of the structure, it will be torn down to make way for 28 town homes and eight two-storey buildings with 104 condominiums. Demolition is estimated to take six to eight months. The restoration is expected to take four years to complete. The Biltmore will be closed for 18 to 24 months while the construction is under way. No closing date has been announced.
The Belleview Biltmore has hosted many famous guests including U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Duke of Windsor, and celebrities such as Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.