Will this cultural nurturing lead to long-term change in La Pequeña Habana? Futurama's owners plan to restore the 92-year-old Tower Hotel, at 1450 SW Seventh St., which they recently purchased for $1.7 million. They will turn it into a boutique hotel with 50 rooms celebrating the property's history and expect to invest close to $1 million in renovations.
During its heyday, jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lena Horne, and Billie Holiday stayed at the Tower Hotel after their gigs at the infamous nightclub Ball & Chain, co-owner Fuller informs."This hotel will be a game changer for the neighborhood," the 35-year-old Palmetto Senior High School grad predicts. He says artists will create themed rooms based on the musical legends who stayed at the hotel, and a multi-use arts lounge will keep the landmark's history alive.
"For us, it's all about honoring the history and reshaping the future," says his 36-year-old partner, Pinilla.
"When Walt Disney built Disneyland, he made sure it was all-inclusive so visitors would stay in the area. We want people to come and stay here and fully immerse themselves in Little Havana's culture," Fuller adds.
"I think they are truly visionaries," says Corinna Moebius, founder of LittleHavanaGuide.com and a former director of Viernes Culturales. "They are all about what I call the 'spirit of place' and are vested in supporting the artists, dancers, and performers who live or work in Little Havana."