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Hotel projects add to new-look downtown

What's old is new again at the renamed Pier Hotel, and the Heritage Holiday Inn Hotel will be expanded.

By SHARON BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 12, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- One of the city's 1920s hotels on Second Avenue N is about to reopen under a new name and with a new look. Next door, a long-awaited addition to the Heritage Holiday Inn Hotel is closer to starting.

The two projects are part of the continuing renovation and expansion of smaller, established downtown properties. Their overhauls are occurring in the shadows of construction of three luxury residential high-rises and a shopping center with 20 movie screens and assorted retailers.

The Pier Hotel at 253 Second Ave. is the latest reincarnation of the Cordova Hotel, built in 1921. Owner Ken Ruddock and operations manager Joe Pottschmidt are renovating the hotel to cater to business travelers and tourists.

"More (rooms) will be suited toward the business type," Pottschmidt said. The hotel features 34 rooms, some of which can be combined to create suites, Ruddock said. They will be furnished in antique reproductions and equipped with cable television, a new telephone system, high-speed Internet access, a microwave and small refrigerator. Twenty of the rooms have the original claw-foot bathtubs, which have been reconditioned.

Ruddock said renovations began about six months ago and cost about $250,000.

The Pier Hotel, a three-story neo-classical revival style, is expected to open by mid-May. It will offer guests continental breakfasts and evening cocktails plus live piano music in the lobby. But the hotel will not have a restaurant. That's why Ruddock and Pottschmidt are interested in the planned expansion of the Heritage Holiday Inn Hotel at 234 Third Ave. N, which includes a Denny's restaurant and a small pub.

The Heritage addition, which faces Second Avenue N, revved up again last summer after first being announced in late 1997 by the Cypress Cos. of Orlando. Completing the plans and getting a contractor, financing and permits have consumed the months since, according to Richard A. Kimbrough, a St. Petersburg architect who is drawing the plans.

The project will cost about $3-million, Kimbrough said.

A permit has been issued to build the foundation, but plans still must be reviewed by a number of city departments, according to Richard Jager, senior plans examiner for the city of St. Petersburg. That review should be completed in about three weeks, he said.

Kimbrough said construction could start in a couple of weeks. Plans call for a five-story addition that will include 79 rooms, some of which are suites. The addition will face Second Avenue N. A connector bridge in the back will run over the alley to the back of the Heritage Holiday Inn Hotel.

The addition will be complete and ready when Tampa Bay hosts Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, Kimbrough said.

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