When Miami-Dade voters approved a $2.9 billion general obligation bond program six years ago, the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables was not among the list of projects slated to receive funds. Today, county Commissioner Rebeca Sosa aims to change that. She is sponsoring a resolution on the December 7 county commission agenda that would grant $1.5 million in bond money to pay for the Biltmore Hotel's restoration.
While Banana Republican can't argue with the Biltmore's significance in the community, the County Commission once again proves it can't be trusted with our money. And considering three months ago an audit found that the company operating the hotel owes Coral Gables, which owns the Biltmore, millions of dollars in unpaid rent and other charges, this smells like a bail out plan.
The proposal first came up during the county commission's recreation, culture and tourism committee meeting this past November 8. Sosa sits on the committee. "I don't have to tell you what this hotel means to Miami-Dade County," Sosa said at the meeting. "When we talk about occasions and moments at a national level when a hotel is showcased, it is always the Biltmore."
According to a PowerPoint presentation presented by Seaway Corp., the company that leases the Biltmore, the $1.2 million would cover structural and stucco repair; painting, staining and sealing all the hotel's windows and doors; installation of balustrade railings and precast lamp posts; among many other repairs.
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The audit determined that Seaway owes Coral Gables $2.8 million in unpaid rent since April 2009.