History of the Belleview-Biltmore Resort and Spa
The Belleview-Biltmore Resort and Spa was a historic resort hotel located at 25 Belleview Boulevard in the town of Belleair, Florida, United States. The 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) hotel structure was the last remaining grand historic hotel of its period in Florida that existed as a resort, and the only Henry Plant hotel still in operation when it closed in 2009. The building was noted for its architectural features, with its unique green sloped roof and white wood-sided exterior, and extensive handcrafted woodwork and Tiffany glass inside. Constructed of native Florida pine wood, it was said to be the largest occupied wood frame structure in the world during its heyday.
The Belleview-Biltmore is situated along the eastern shores of Old Clearwater Bay, with views of the bay and the barrier islands which border the Gulf of Mexico. The hotel was built in 1897 by railroad tycoon Henry B. Plantand was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on December 26, 1979, but was removed in 2017.
The hotel closed in 2009 and thereafter the property deteriorated from neglect. Despite the venerable hotel's historic designation and efforts by preservation groups to save it, various proposals to restore the property as a resort hotel were unsuccessful and the owners began demolition in 2015 for planned condominiums. A portion of the 1897 structure has been saved and relocated on a new foundation to be used as a boutique inn.
The Belleview-Biltmore has hosted many famous people, dignitaries and world leaders through the years, 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.
In 2014, the Belleair Town Commission approved plans by the current owner, JMC Communities, for a $125 million development to tear down all but the original structure's roughly 38,000-square-feet west wing, or 10 percent, after first documenting the hotel's history through photographs and written catalogs. A portion would be converted into a boutique inn with salvaged pieces incorporated into the decor. The inn would then be joined by 132 new condos and townhomes, according to the plans.
On May 9, 2015, demolition began by JMC.
On December 21, 2016 the preserved portion of the Belleview-Biltmore Hotel was placed on hydraulic dollies and moved 230 feet. The hotel was placed on a new foundation where it will be re-purposed as a boutique hotel,the Belleview Inn. The inn reopened in early December 2018.
The building was removed from the National Register of Historic Places in October 2017.