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Today's Letters: Focus on bigger picture, not parking spaces

Published January 16, 2008


Go slowly on Biltmore okays editorial, Jan. 9

It is with great pleasure that I accepted the proposal of Legg Mason Real Estate Investors to become the architect of this grand project. The Belleview Biltmore has been, and will continue to be, a property of national prominence and historical value, and Legg Mason has demonstrated the correct vision for the restoration of the property.

We have spent an enormous amount of time listening to the input of many experts, local citizens and the town leaders. It has been a large undertaking, and I believe that we have succeeded in our goal to balance the property's historical aspects, secure its market potential and functionality, and carefully protect the context of its neighborhood and residents. The future for the hotel and its surroundings is very positive.

Our proposed entrance enhancements will greatly benefit all property owners, including the Belleair Country Club. This includes having adequate and convenient guest parking. Unfortunately, the Belleair zoning code requiring 2,000 spaces is excessive and would make the project unfeasible. If this project were to be constructed in Clearwater, St. Petersburg or Tampa, parking requirements would range from 442 to 490 parking spaces.

We did engage parking consultants Timothy Haahs & Associates to assess the project's true parking demand based upon industry standards for similar resort hotels. Taking into account such factors as hotel occupancy, captive market and peak hours, they told us we have a peak demand of 553 cars and recommended a garage with a self-parking capacity of 560. (Currently there are 172 parking spaces on site)

We have chosen to exceed this recommendation and have proposed a garage with capacity for 652 cars. There will also be a valet parking capacity of 768 cars, plus overflow parking for more than 251 cars available at the golf club.

We have been extremely pleased with all the positive feedback we have received from the community, and we realize that a project of this scope and size will certainly be scrutinized by all. We are dedicated to the functionality of the property, as well as to the context of the neighborhood surrounding it. I believe that Legg Mason Real Estate Investors Inc. has assembled the best team possible, and I urge all to continue to focus on the bigger picture of saving and restoring this national treasure.

Richard J. Heisenbottle, Coral Gables

Having weekly dances at Coliseum is impractical

I returned home recently from a trip and heard about a petition to return the bimonthly Wednesday afternoon dances at the St. Petersburg Coliseum to a weekly event.

In today's economy, it would be impractical to fund this endeavor. In today's society, governmental agencies are experiencing a decline in revenues due to economic conditions. The Coliseum is an immense arena. Increasing insurance costs and high energy and maintenance bills affect the decisionmaking process about which events the Coliseum can feasibly host.

I believe the continuation of the bimonthly dances is evidence that the people in charge (city of St. Petersburg) are bending over backward for our seniors. To ask for more is absurd. The funds spent for these "extra" dances should be used for more critical and meaningful projects.

Seniors who enjoy dancing can find lots of places to dance, such as the Gulfport Casino, senior centers, American Legion halls and dance studios.

Martin Elman, Seminole


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You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.


[Last modified January 15, 2008, 23:52:10]

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