“It is hard to imagine Coral Gables without the Biltmore Hotel.”
- Arva Moore Parks
Recent media coverage of disagreements and issues between the City and Seaway Biltmore regarding the Biltmore has been affected by considerable confusion and error. We would like to help correct this by sharing with you facts about the Biltmore.
- The Biltmore was conveyed to the City for no consideration by the United States government in 1985 "for historic preservation purposes" pursuant to Federal law (40 U.S.C. §484(k)) to be accomplished by the operation of a luxury hotel in the style of the original Biltmore within the Historic Monument property. The U.S. government retained the right to take back the property if the Federal requirements were not observed.
- The City's application for that grant indicated that the restoration cost would be approximately $32 million. The City granted a 90-year ground lease of the property to Sovereign Group Ltd. ad developer/operator.
- Sovereign was to accomplish the restoration and then operate the hotel as a for-profit enterprise subject to the fulfillment of the Federal grant.
- Sovereign invested approximately $50 million for restoration and operation of the hotel and failed within five years.
- Seaway took over the Sovereign lease eighteen years ago with the understanding that the restoration was substantially completed.
- Since that time Seaway has been constantly investing further capital to actually complete and correct the restoration and develop proper luxury-level hotel operations.
- Until now more than $60 million has been invested by Seaway in further capital improvements.
- Seaway has been discussing with the City for more than five years the need to redo the business model between the City and Seaway to make it mutually fair and to achieve the Federal objective of sustainable preservation of the Biltmore as a Historic Monument.
- Meanwhile, Seaway continued to fund further work necessary to restore the Biltmore including more than $3 million in further capital improvements since the onset of the 2008 Recession.
- The City recently engaged PriceWaterhouseCoopers ("PWC") as a consultant to assist in examination of the history of Biltmore operations and other matters relevant to redevelopment of the business model.
- The Federal government recently confirmed that all of the costs of repair, restoration and maintenance of the Biltmore should be paid before any "excess income" is recognized.
- Rent under the City/Seaway Biltmore Lease is "excess income" under Federal regulations. So far Seaway has paid more than $17 million in Rent to the City although no "excess income" has yet been realized by the property due to the excessive costs of restoration and maintenance of the property.
View letters from the Department of Interior
View Federal Regulations