Dunedin Citizens Fight to Save the Fenway

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A group of Downtown Merchant Association gathered with the Dunedin Historical Society to Discuss what actions can be taken to save their historical landmark the property changing hands from PNC Bank. http://destinationtampabay.com/destination-tampa-bay-news/business-community/dunedin-citizens-fight-to-save-the-fenway/

Historical Fenway Hotel

“We want the highest use of the landmark Dunedin property to serve our community and visitors.” says Rene' Johnson, one of the Dunedin residents and business owners who supports the proposed developers use of the project.

Dunedin Citizens Hope to "Save the Fenway"

Differences between the Dunedin residents and businesses and the PNC Bank, one of America’s largest banks, over the sale of a piece of property occupied by the remnants of a historic hotel known as The Fenway is a modern “David and Goliath” story. It seems that a developer having the support of the many community residents and businesses (David) wants to purchase the site and rebuild the historic hotel, while the bank (Goliath) prefers to sell the property to the Taoist Tai Chai Society of America, a 501(C) 3 non-profit organization.

The bank’s sale of the property to the Tai Chi Society could make the property tax-free. The city and local residents support the proposed developer’s plan to rebuild of the historic boutique hotel with 85 rooms, an additional 9000 sq. ft. conference and meeting center and 36 new townhomes on the site.* (Proposed property details are in public records of the community.

The City of Dunedin’s Economic & Housing Development Director Robert Ironsmith says, “A study of the developer’s proposed project showed that it could produce $53,000 of annual property taxes and possibly an additional $45,000 of other various taxes, 68 permanent jobs creating $2,100,000 in annual salaries and 129 construction jobs. The Fenway’s proposed hotel and development project could have a substantial economic impact for the residents and businesses of Dunedin."**

“Banks have an obligation to be aware of and concerned with the communities in which they are located and operate,” says Rene' Johnson, one of the Dunedin residents and business owners who supports the sale of the Fenway to a hotel developer rather than a 501(C)3. “We want the highest use of the landmark Dunedin property to serve our community and visitors.”**

Gregory Brady, President-Elect for the Dunedin Downtown Merchant Association, who is also another Dunedin resident and business owner says, “A new hotel would regenerate a historic hotel with new construction components to meet current flood, safety and hurricane standards. The proposed developer's plan also calls for the rebuilding of public dock access and a water taxi service point to other waterfront locations in Dunedin...all of which are exciting opportunities.” **

Brady says he is most interested in obtaining the needed hotel rooms and conference space to fulfill the needs of the Dunedin community.

George Nigro, Vice President of the Dunedin Historical Museum, agrees with these comments and points out "The Fenway is not another building in Dunedin. What The Vinoy is to St. Petersburg, what The Biltmore is to Clearwater....that is what The Fenway is to Dunedin. It's not just our history.......it's our heritage."

Many citizens of Dunedin and the surrounding area have been trying to reach representatives of the PNC Bank to express their concerns; however, they have not been able to reach anyone in authority. At a meeting in Dunedin’s Weaver Park on Saturday, June 6, they agreed that they want PNC Bank to be aware that the sale of the loan agreement to a 501(C) 3 will deprive the city of the future economic growth and historic re-institution that The Fenway as a hotel and townhouse development would bring.

Construction on the original Fenway Hotel was completed in 1927. It remained open until 1961, when it became Trinity College, which moved to Pasco County in 1988. The hotel remained vacant until 1991 when it was purchased by Schiller International University, at which time the Tampa Bay Times called the hotel building Dunedin’s “most historically valuable structure.” This historic site has remained in disrepair for two decades.

Over the years, the former 110-room hotel was home to the first radio station in Pinellas County. It was visited by internationally known celebrities. Plans for the reconstruction call for maintaining some of the historic architectural features while creating an attractive, modern site that will attract tourists and serve as a meeting place for area residents.

If PNC would allow the proposed Dunedin Fenway developer to successfully purchase the property (as opposed to the tax exempt organization), the City of Dunedin could add millions to its tax base, area businesses could earn money in construction revenues and provide other new jobs, and David will have defeated Goliath.

Most source and direct quotes reported by Destination Publication,LLC

By Jackie McCallum
Editorial Director Destination Publications LLC.

For more details check out some of the following resources:






For more open community comments visit: https://www.facebook.com/SaveTheFenwayHotel


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Bonnie M. Walters

Jackie McCallum
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