SAFETY HARBOR, FL-The 68-year-old, 189-room Safety Harbor Resort & Spa, whose roots go back to the 1850s, has been purchased by SHS Resort LLC for $23.6 million or about $125,000 per room. The affiliate of Dunedin-based Olympia Development Group bought the Tampa Bay-area property from MeriStar Hospitality Corp. of Arlington, VA.

Brokers in a position to know tell the new owner plans to demolish the 26-acre property at 105 Bayshore Dr. and redevelop the landmark site into condos, hotels and a new spa. But Olympia Development president William Touloumis says only cosmetic changes are planned for the resort.

MeriStar, which owns 73 full-service hotels totaling 20,319 rooms in 22 states, sold Safety Harbor Resort & Spa as part of its continuing disposition program. “This is an excellent property with interesting redevelopment potential but it did not fit our long-term strategy of owning larger, branded properties in major markets with high barriers to new competition and significant growth potential,” says MeriStar chairman and CEO. Paul W. Whetsell.

MeriStar sold 36 hotels in 2003 and 2004 for cash proceeds of $284 million. The Plascencia Group of Tampa represented MeriStar in the sale.

The natural mineral springs at Safety Harbor have attracted worldwide attention over the years because of their vaunted healing powers, according to local historians. Col. William J. Bailey purchased the springs from the government in the 1850s and named the site Bailey by the Sea. Visitors often called the property Green Springs and Worth’s Harbor. Dr. and Mrs. Alben Jansk bought the resort property in 1936, rebuilt the facilities and sold the site in 1945 to Dr. Salem H. Baranoff. Other owners have operated the property since then.

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