Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cabana Club and Biltmore Under New Ownership

After months of rumors, it's official- the Belleview Biltmore is now owned by KAWA Development. The investment group consists of brothers Raphael and Daniel Ades, and another partner. The group purchased the mortgage on the property for $8 million, and now control the hotel, as well as the golf course and Cabana Club in Sand Key.

According to Raphael Ades, they will focus first on paying bills and keeping the golf course in operation and later decide what to do with the hotel. Legg Mason (now Latitude Management Real Estate Investors) mortgaged the property for $26.8 million with intentions to restore the hotel.

The future of the property is still unclear. In October, Ades said his group was primarily interested in the golf course and had plans to upgrade the 136-acre golf course. In November, Senior Care Group said it was negotiating with the investors to possibly restore the Biltmore and convert it into an assisted living facility. Ades has recently said they may separate the properties or find another party interested the properties as a whole.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Clearwater Holiday Boat Parade Set

The 36th annual Memorial Holiday Boat Parade, sponsored by the Island Estates Yacht Club, will be held on Saturday, December 11th. The event honors members of Island Estates Yacht Club who passed away during the year and is one of the area's largest holiday boat parades. Around 50 lighted and decorated boats will light up the waterways. Cash prizes and gift certificates donated by local businesses for the best decorated boats.

The parade will begin in Mandalay Channel between Island Estates and Clearwater Beach at 6 pm, head north through the channel, arriving at Coachman Park around 8 pm, then navigate under the Memorial Causeway Bridge to the Clearwater Yacht Club for judging.

If you are interested in entering your vessel, contact the Yacht Club Fleet Captain Tom Smith at (727) 776-3375 or

Friday, November 19, 2010

Aquarium May Get $750k For New Parking From City Council

Clearwater may give $750,000 in taxpayer funds to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium so it can buy the land next door, between the aquarium and Island Way Grill, to build a bigger parking lot. If the aquarium gets the funds, they will also receive a $750,000 matching grant from Sand Key philanthropist Richard "Dick" Jacobson. CMA needs the $1.5 million to secure financing for the $3.1 million parcel. There will be a vote Thursday at 6 p.m. at City Hall to decide if the private, non-profit facility will receive the funds..

In case you haven't heard, a major Hollywood movie, "Dolphin Tale" starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr. — and local celebrity Winter the dolphin is filming at the aquarium, which is closed temporarily for the shoot. The aquarium expects attendance to double or triple next fall when the movie is released. It's not just the film that has sparked the need for more parking, the aquarium has been expanding and attendance has been up sharply the past 4 years.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Winter The Dolphin Will Star In Motion Picture

Winter the dolphin will be playing herself in "A Dolphin's Tale," which is scheduled to begin filming today. Most of the movie will be shot at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. A robot double will be used in scenes that Winter cannot do. The movie will star Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd and tells the story of a boy who befriends an injured dolphin and helps her get an artificial tail.

At three months old, Winter became tangled in a crab trap line near Cape Canaveral. She was rescued and brought to the CMA for rehab, but her injuries resulted in the loss of her entire tail and two vertebrae. To the surprise of marine experts, Winter adapted in spite of her serious injuries, and modified her swim pattern to accommodate her disability. Winter has also learned to eat fish on her own and is growing at a healthy rate. A human prosthetics company and a marine mammal veterinarian, developed a prosthetic tail for Winter. With the help trainers, she is being taught to use the prosthetic.

Winter has been featured on the NBC Today Show, CNN and BBC, and is an inspiration to millions. Observing Winter playfully swim around her enclosure is truly a joy; she has overcome adversity by surviving her injury, and seems unaware of her impediment. Her story, however, is uncommon. Each year, countless dolphins become trapped in monofilament and crab trap lines and die.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Clearwater Super Boat Race Course Modified

The Clearwater Super Boat National Championship Festival Race is returning next weekend after a successful event last year.

As Super Boats equipped with F-16 jet canopies race just off the shore of Clearwater Beach while reaching extreme speeds of up to 200 mph during the Bright House 2010 Clearwater Super Boat National Championship Festival Race Sunday, October 3rd, the throngs of fans watching the spectacle of “NASCAR on water” will get a better view thanks to the improved sightline of a new race course. The new race course modifies last year’s course, and will not extend down to North Clearwater Beach, but will instead extend just beyond Pier 60. North Clearwater Beach will be omitted because sightlines of the race are not as good. The new race course will also give racing boats more room to get in and out of the racing area.

While the race is free, VIP race viewing at the Hyatt Regency or the Hilton Clearwater Beach are available for purchase through the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce for $100. VIP Race Experience pass holders will be treated to a variety of VIP race experience activities as well, including VIP parties. All proceeds from the event benefit three local charities, The Clearwater Community Sailing Center, Sailability and the Make a Difference Fishing Tournament.

The race will be followed by an awards ceremony in Coachman Park where the National Champions will be announced.

Race course diagram and viewing area coordinates for boaters are available online at

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Area 4th Of July Fireworks And Events

Clearwater Celebrates America
Sunday, July 4
Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater
Clearwater Celebrates America, the city’s annual Independence Day celebration will feature the Mostly Pops Orchestra, fireworks, children’s activities, a craft show, food and drink concessions. Gates open at 4 p.m.; fireworks at 9:30. No alcoholic beverages, glass containers or bottles, umbrellas, canopies, throwing objects, pets or personal fireworks allowed. The Memorial Causeway Bridge will be closed from about 9:15 to 10:15 p.m. for the fireworks. Expect traffic delays as a result and consider alternate routes.

St Pete Beach Fireworks
Sunday July 4th 9pm
Upham Beach, Gulf Boulevard and 68th Street, St. Pete Beach
City officials say the 30-minute display can be viewed from the City's beaches to the South. All of Upham Beach will close to the public at 6 p.m. Fireworks begin at dusk.

Redington Shores Fireworks
Sunday, July 4 9pm
County Park, 18120 Park Blvd., Redington Shores

Head to the beach for the Town of Redington Shores fireworks display by East Coast Pyrotechnics.

Madeira Beach Fireworks
Sunday, July 4 9pm
Madeira Beach Rec Center and Ball Fields 200 Rex Place, Madeira Beach

Launched off the recreation center ball fields and over the water, the display is viewable from either side of the Madeira Beach Causeway.

Largo Fireworks and Celebration
Sunday, July 4
Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Largo Recreation, Parks & Arts as well as the 50th anniversary of the dance move, The Twist. To celebrate, Largo will be attempting to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest number of people doing The Twist at the same time. Music provided by Joey Dee and the Starliters. Participation fee includes a commemorative world-record attempt hat. Registration will take place on-site. Fireworks viewing and other activities follow at 9 p.m.

July 4th At The Pier
Sunday, July 4
800 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg
A full day of family activities kicks off outside with original folk/rock music by the Daniel B. Marshall Band (1-4 p.m.), Juggler Bob (4 p.m.), R&B/funk by Fast Lane in the courtyard (4:30 p.m.) and alternative/pop by Save the Radio (8-11 p.m.). Inside, you can get your face, arms or back painted (1-9 p.m.), and shows by hypnotist Eric Kand (5-6 p.m. and 7-8 p.m.). Fireworks light up the bay at 9 p.m.

Patriotic Sand Sculpture
North Straub Park, Fifth Avenue NE and Bayshore Drive, St. Petersburg
See what a team of world-renowned artists can do with a 40-ton pile of sand dumped near the Plaza of North Straub Park at this Transitions Sight ‘n Sand Family Event. Team Sandtastic begins building a patriotic-themed sand sculpture soon after the noon sand delivery on July 2 and must be finished by July 4. A smaller tabletop sand sculpture contest also begins at 8 a.m. July 3 with judging on July 4.

Safety Harbor 4th of July Parade
Sunday, July 4 10am
Main Street and Second Ave. N, Safety Harbor
Kids are invited to decorate their bicycles and wagons to join in this short parade that includes military vehicles, honor guards, firetrucks, Shriners, motorcycle groups, car clubs, the Dunedin Pipe and Drum band, walking units and floats.

Safety Harbor Fireworks
Sunday, July 4 5pm
Safety Harbor City Marina, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor
The City of Safety Harbor's annual July 4th Celebration and Fireworks Display will take place along Bayshore Boulevard, at the City Marina and on the back lawn of the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa. The event includes games and activities for all ages, food and beverages available for purchase, beer and wine available with proper ID and local bands performing on the Budweiser True Music Stage. It also features one of the larger fireworks displays in the Tampa Bay area.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Concession Stand Now Open At Sand Key Park

A new concession stand opened at Sand Key Park on Memorial Day weekend offering food and beverages, along with chair and kayak rentals.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Buffett Meets Sinatra Abilities Guild Benefit

The private Carlouel Yacht Club will be open to the public for a special event next week. The Abilities Guild is hosting Buffett Meets Sinatra, an evening of fine dining, music and laughter for all generations on Friday, April 9. Guests are encouraged to dress for the them, ie "tropical" or "manhattan".

The show is presented by musical stylists Dale Williams and Chuck Cobb. The event begins at 6 p.m. and includes a cash bar. Tickets are $65 a person and all charitable proceeds benefit the Abilities Guild. For reservations or more information, contact Barbara Hoskinson at 727-586-2268 or For information on the Abilities Foundation, visit

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Court Rules In Favor Of Cabana Club

A legal hurdle has been cleared for the redevelopment of the Cabana Club on Sand Key. The 6th Judicial Court denied an appeal by five petitioners who questioned an earlier ruling on parking and traffic requirements.

The Cabana Club restaurant, which closed last year, will be replaced with a 6 floor boutique hotel. The redevelopment was approved the the Community Development Board in 2008 and as part of the $100 million 3 year renovation of the historic Belleview Biltmore in Belleair. The Cabana Club will serve as the Biltmore's "beach club".

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beach Parking Garage Gets City Council Approval

On February 18th Clearwater City Council approved an agreement with L.O.M. Inc. to build a parking garage on Coronado Drive, next to the new Hyatt Regency Resort. The 300 spaces will replace the ones that were lost to the BeachWalk project. The site is currently occupied by Britt’s Laguna Grill and Surf Style, who will occupy the ground level of the new facility. Construction is expected to start by the end of September.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beach Renourishment Projects

Pinellas County Commissioners unanimously approved on Jan. 5 amendments to two beach renourishment contracts.

Amendment No. 1 to the Treasure Island beach renourishment grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection increases the state share of the project from $400,000 to $700,000. The project is scheduled to begin in late spring 2010.

Amendment No. 2 to the FDEP contract for the Sand Key renourishment project increases the state share of costs from $333,320 to $3.9 million. Construction is set to begin between November 2010 and February 2011.

The Treasure Island project will be constructed in conjunction with the Upham Beach renourishment project and will be administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The estimated cost of $3.5 million for the project will be cost-shared, 60 percent federal government, 20 percent state and 20 percent county. The $20 million estimated cost for the Sand Key project will be paid for with the same cost-sharing formula.

History of the Treasure Island project shows that the beach has “two erosional hot spots:” One on the north end and along the southern two-thirds of the island.

Treasure Island was the first federal project to be constructed on the west coast of Florida in 1969. The beaches have been restored 14 times. Treasure Island was last restored in 2006.

Project plans call for sediment to be dredged from John’s Pass and pumped onto the beaches. The project will renourish a total of 1.4 miles of shoreline encompassing two areas: One in north Treasure Island and the other further south along Sunset Beach.

Officials estimate that construction of both areas will take less than four months.

The Sand Key project is 9 miles long and extends from the Sand Key portion of Clearwater south to North Redington Beach, according to staff notes.

The project history shows the area was first renourished as a single unit in 1998. Prior to that time, individual communities, such as Indian Rocks Beach, Redington Shores and others, were nourished separately.

The 2005-06 Sand Key project was the most expensive beach renourishment project in the history of the Jacksonville District U.S. Army Corp of Engineers at $45 million. The high cost was mainly attributed to fuel costs from barging sand from the Egmont Key Channel borrow area to the beach.

Officials are trying to reduce the cost of the 2010-11 project by contracting Coastal Planning Engineering Inc. to do a sand search for new borrow areas several miles offshore Sand Key.

Sand Key News