BELLAIR, FL-In play for several months, the historic, 107-year-old, 244-room Belleview Biltmore Resort & Spa, 18 miles from Tampa International Airport, could have new ownership by year end, hospitality industry consultants and brokers in a position to know tell

The leading contender for the 22-acre property is Tampa-based DeBartolo Group. Insiders tell the speculated contract price is $12.2 million or $50,000 per room. Based on the land itself, that estimated price equates to $554,545 per acre or $12.73 per sf–a bargain, brokers say, for a one-of-a-kind property opened in 1897 by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant.

However, representatives for the hotel’s ownership group, headed by Pennsylvania real estate investor Scott Urdang, maintain the 820,000-sf hotel is not for sale and is operating successfully, brokers following the sale speculation tell

DeBartolo is also negotiating to include the resort’s off-site holdings, the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club and the Belleview Biltmore Beach Club on Sand Key, in the acquisition deal, consultants familiar with the transaction tell The golf courses at the nearby Belleair Country Club are not affiliated with the resort. Belleair is about five miles south of Clearwater on the Gulf of Mexico.

The resort has been in the National Registry of Historic Places since 1979. “DeBartolo would like to convert the resort to condominiums which would be a natural for the site,” a Clearwater broker not associated with the pending transaction tells “The big issue is to demolish or not to demolish the property. DeBartolo is trying to work out a middle ground that would satisfy the community and his company’s plans.”

DeBartolo and hotel ownership officials couldn’t be reached by’s publication deadline. But an insider tells, “A deal of some kind is definitely in the works.”

Prior owners of the resort include Mido Development of Japan which paid $27 million, or $110,655 per room, in 1990 to Bernard Powell who had owned and operated the property for 43 years, according to previously published reports. Atlanta hotelier Salim Jetha bought the hotel for $16 million, or $65,574 per room, in 1997.

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