LOCATION: 905 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602
ARCHITECTS: Francis J. Kennard & Son
COST: $1,900,000 (1927)
ARCHITECTURAL STYLE: Late 19th & 20th Century Revivals
CURRENT USE: Boutique Hotel
PHOTO CREDITS : South Florida Photographer, Flickr
Construction on the hotel began in 1926 by Francis J. Kennard & Son, Architects and the Floridan Hotel officially opened in 1927 with 19 floors and 316 rooms, at a cost of $1.9 million to build. At the time the Floridan was the tallest building in Florida and would remain the tallest building in Tampa until 1966 when the Franklin Exchange Building was completed.
The hotel’s bar, the Sapphire Room, was a popular nightspot during World War II for servicemen who were training at nearby Drew Field to fly B-17s over Europe. Many of the service men at that time were housed in makeshift barracks located underneath the bleachers at the old Florida State Fairgrounds racetrack a few blocks away. The bar’s wild reputation at the time earned it the nickname “The Surefire Room”].
Over the years, the hotel hosted such stars as Gary Cooper as he filmed the movie Hell Harbor with actress Lupe Velez; and Elvis Presley stayed at the hotel in 1955 after a concert at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.
The hotel began to decline in patronage in the early 1960s as more modern “motels” were built along the highways that skirted the city. In 1966 the hotel closed to commercial and tourist hotel and remained only open to long term renters. By the 1980s the once grand and luxurious hotel had become a residence for transients renting rooms by the week or month. The Floridan Hotel finally closed its doors in 1989 after new ownership fails to bring the building up to new firecodes.
The hotel had bounced through several ownership groups from 1987 until 2005. Most prominent among these was Akio Ogawa and Sity International Inc. who purchased the Hotel at foreclosure in 1989. The purchase is noteworthy because it was the work of Ogawa that had the building added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 12, 1996. He would sell the hotel in 1997 to Capital LLC.
The Hotel was purchased on April 21, 2005 by hotelier and real-estate investor Antonios Markopoulos for $6 Million. An extensive cleaning and restoration of the building’s interior and exterior began in August 2005 and has continued since.
The Floridan’s original sign, which was found by work crews during the cleaning of the building in 2005, and had adorned the buildings roof for decades, was restored and placed on the hotel’s rooftop once more in late summer 2008.