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Bayview Hotel set again for a new life

After numerous incarnations, the nearly 100-year-old building is being seen now as a good candidate for a bed-and-breakfast with retail stores or galleries.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 26, 2000


GULFPORT -- The former owner bought the now vacant Bayview Hotel for $100 in a county-run foreclosure auction Thursday, an action that apparently clears his title to the three-story property and paves the way for the building to be resold.

James Lodato was the only bidder on the controversial property. He said he has at least three parties interested in buying the 1900s-era building at 2937 Beach Blvd.

"I've talked or met with three different parties, and they are all very interested," Lodato said Friday. "They all agree the best use of the property is a bed-and-breakfast with retail stores or galleries."

Lodato originally purchased the property in 1994 for $110,000 and sold it two years later to Florida Arts & Cultural Education Inc. for $230,000. FACE intended to convert the then-abandoned building to an art gallery and coffeehouse. When FACE defaulted on its mortgage commitment to Lodato, he was forced to buy the property back at auction to regain title to the old hotel.

The Bayview Hotel was built between 1901 and 1905 as a resort. In later years, the building was used as a veterans home, a nursing home, a hospital, a retirement home, a Baptist boardinghouse and a congregate living home. An attempt was made in the 1970s to convert the building into a Christian school.

The city supports conversion of the building and approved a conditional-use permit a year ago that would allow retail stores, a boardinghouse, restaurant, professional offices or commercial entertainment.

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