Many developers didn’t even know the Old Gray’s Hotel was on the auction block, but it caught the eye of developer Chuck Prather. This vintage hotel was constructed in 1922, and Chuck Prather snatched it up at a fire sale price of just $1.8 million. From the onset, Prather had a vision of renovating this grand old lady while keeping its old world ambiance and adding a bit of hip with a projected cost of $6 million. He also renamed the Old Grayl Hotel Birchwood in commemoration of his dad who once constructed a neighborhood named Birchwood in Tennessee.
The Birchwood is scheduled to open this month and destined to be among one of the swankiest stays in Tampa Bay. With its new look, it’s bound to offer some competition for the renaissance Vinoy Resort and the modern Hampton Inn just a block away. The Birchwood is the perfect mélange of history and lux with panoramic vistas of the water and its catbird seat atop Beach Drive.
Keeping the original architecture of architect George Feltman, the original façade was rebuilt with precise attention to historic details. The exterior walls were kept intact with original woodwork and wainscoting. For some modern flair, sleek waterfalls, glass walls and metal were added. When it was all said and done, the Birchwood now rivals boutique hotels in New York and South Beach. Although the Birchwood only has 18 rooms, its guest rooms are 50 percent bigger than the Vinoy’s average room at 600 square feet. There are even guest rooms that have step-out balconies for great views of the city’s July 4th fireworks. Rooms average between $130 and $250 per night.
Prather envisions the Birchwood as four businesses. The fifth floor Canopy features a rooftop lounge surrounded by a botanical garden where patrons can drink, dine and take in the views of Beach Drive and Tampa Bay. The Birch & Vine is a 250-seated restaurant on the first floor and is the biggest profit center. Functions like weddings and business conventions are also part of the projected revenue. To date, close to 80 functions have already been booked. All in all, the city of St. Petersburg is excited that the newly renovated Birchwood is back in action!
Photo courtesy of The Birchwood Inn’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thebirchwoodinn
For more information on Estelia Mesimer and her team, and to learn more about the high-end homes she represents, visit www.estelia.com.
You can reach Estelia at (727) 686-2859 and at email@example.com. Her office is located in downtown St. Petersburg at 111 2nd Ave. NE, Suite 400.