Tampa's Old Federal Courthouse undergoing big changes, will become boutique hotel

12:16 PM, Feb 12, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- For about a decade, the Old Federal Courthouse along downtown Tampa's North Florida Avenue has sat vacant, a victim of time, with termites and mold spores its only residents.

The nearly 100,000 square foot Beaux-Arts style building harbors more than pests. Within its walls, it holds some of the seediest stories of Tampa Bay's past. It's where where mobsters and spies went to trial. A picture from the Hillsborough County Public Library system from the Prohibition era shows a picture of the bust of a truck parked outside the courthouse with a stash of alcohol found inside.

"It's a building with great bones, it's probably one of the most historically significant buildings in downtown other than the Plant Museum and Plant Hall, marble floors, high ceilings, it really is a spectacular old courthouse," Mayor Bob Buckhorn told 10 News.

The city bought the building from the federal government a decade ago and as Mayor Buckhorn explains, the city aggressively went out to find a developer to give this new life and found it in Development Services Group.

It's the same developer that transformed the historic YMCA building in downtown Philadelphia into a Le Meridien Hotel.

"He's going to invest $22 million and turn that old courthouse into a $110 million boutique hotel," said the mayor.

Mayor Buckhorn will be joined by city leaders, the developer and the Downtown Partnership to break ground on the project Wednesday afternoon to officially kick of the renovation project.

If all goes well with the renovation, he'll be attending a ribbon cutting in about 18 months to open the doors of the Le Meridien hotel.

The boutique hotel will add to an already transforming downtown with the recent renovation of the Floridan Hotel, development of Riverwalk, and recent announcement of a new residential high rise near the Straz Center.

The mayor tells us give it ten years and we won't recognize downtown.

"We'll be the city where the river is the center of our downtown, not the western edge, actually focus on the water that we've ignored for all these decades. Our future is unlimited and our time is right now," said Mayor Buckhorn.

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