Here’s a fun quiz. Ready?
How old is the Biltmore Hotel? Nope. Older. No, older than that. Okay, I’ll tell you. It was constructed in 1926 by George Merrick to be the centerpiece of the city he founded as Coral Gables. So that makes it 5 years shy of a centennial.
For us regular folk that means 100 years. What was happening a 100 years ago? Well, radio was the main form of entertainment, jazz clubs were cutting edge and everybody wore hats all the time.
Here is another quiz question: When did the City of Coral Gables take ownership? In April 1973, the U.S. Government granted the City of Coral Gables ownership through the Historic Monuments Act and Legacy of Parks program.
In the 1980s, it received a $55 million overhaul, with the leaseholder relaunching the property as a four-star hotel and resort on Dec. 31, 1987. Okay, class dismissed.
Fast forward to the present day, when in the wake of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, cities around Greater Miami, South Florida, Florida and, for that matter, the rest of the country are re-examining the residential and commercial buildings within their communities to make sure they are structurally sound.
You would expect the City of Coral Gables, with its inventory of beautiful historical buildings like the Biltmore, would be hyper focused on the same issue. But I am here to inform you fellow concerned citizens that they are not.
In fact, they don’t have any inspection reports of the building for the last 24 months and don’t expect to have any anytime soon.
“As per our contract and as the landlord there is no set schedule for inspections,” the city responded, when asked to provide inspection reports for the last 24 months. “The city conducts inspections, just like it does for any property in Coral Gables, when the tenant applies for permits to conduct work on the premises.”
So, the city has no plans to inspect a 100-year-old building unless the leaseholder — Biltmore Hotel Limited Partnership, with Seaway Biltmore as the managing partner of the partnership — pulls a permit for some work on the property. That means if the leaseholder doesn’t pull a permit, there is no inspection.
What does that say about a city that is building millions of square feet of new residential and commercial buildings? Should we be worried they aren’t inspecting those buildings after 10 years have gone by?
This isn’t right. Don’t fall on your old ways of not paying attention City of Coral Gables.
Your residents are depending on you.
The bottom line for concerned citizens like you and me is that the City of Coral Gables should be inspecting all of the property it owns regularly, especially those that were built when Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States and the country had just come out of the World War I.
Now, here’s your last chance to win a prize by answering my last trivia question. When is the City Beautiful inspecting the Biltmore Hotel? Answer: Your guess is as good as mine.