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By Chevon T. Baccus APR
Executive Editor 

Seminole Hotel Demolition Bid Comes in at $700,000

City Staff Hopeful it Won't be Necessary


Last updated 6/12/2019 at 8:16am

Williamson Photography of Lake Wales

Seminole Hotel near downtown Lake Wales

The City of Lake Wales now has even more incentive to support prospective developers of the historic Seminole Hotel: the bid to demolish it came in June 4 at $700,000.

Simpson Environmental Services of Trilby, FL submitted the lone bid, calling for $100,000 for the demolition and another $600,000 for "asbestos and road closure."

City Planning and Development Director Kathy Bangley said city officials have made no decisions regarding the demolition bid: "It is currently outside what we have in our budget for demolitions by a considerable amount. The price is reflective of the regulatory requirements for removal and disposal of asbestos contaminated materials."

The City hired ACT Environmental and Infrastructure in Bartow to determine the presence, location and quantity of asbestos containing material in the 1920s era hotel. ACT inspectors identified asbestos in flooring, mastic, pipe insulation, stucco, ceiling texture and roof flashing, most fairly low percentages of between two and 10 percent chrysotile. The highest concentrations they found were 25 percent chrysotile in brown vinyl bathroom flooring on the hotel's second floor and 60 percent chrysotile on pipe insulation in the attic. The ACT inspectors detailed materials "found above threshold quantities and likely to be rendered friable during demolition activities." The term "friable" means that the asbestos is easily crumbled by hand, releasing fibers into the air that can prove harmful. Sprayed on asbestos insulation is generally considered highly friable.

West Palm Beach Architect Rick Gonzalez, a consultant and business partner to local developer Ray Brown, said he reviewed the Seminole asbestos assessment and found it "minor." The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict standards for building renovations or demolition when asbestos is present to ensure safe removal or encapsulation, which involves coating it so the fibers can't be released into the air.

After numerous and long-running code violations the city condemned the Seminole Hotel in late 2017 and placed a lien on the property with administrative fines of $250 per day, which now exceed $100,000. Bangley has said since current owner Cardiff Howell has not submitted an acceptable redevelopment plan her office is proceeding with plans to demolish the structure, located at 207 N. 1st St. near downtown Lake Wales. The decision ultimately will be made by the city commission, which would need to budget for the demolition. Howell attended the city commission meeting May 21 to confirm his plans to sell the hotel to Ray Brown. The developers said they needed access to do their due diligence before making a final purchase decision.

Williamson Photography of Lake Wales

Developer Ray Brown is working to clean out debris from Seminole Hotel.

After a meeting May 30 with Brown that Gonzalez and his project manager joined by conference call, Bangley and her staff pledged cooperation to allow Brown to clean out furniture and other debris left behind by former hotel tenants. Brown started that work Thursday, June 6, and by Friday afternoon he said he had filled three dumpster containers.

Gonzalez said very soon after the hotel is cleaned out his staff will complete detailed field measurements and develop conceptual drawings, floor plans and an elevation to share with city staff. He said the next step would be producing construction documents for city review.

Bangley had estimated the demolition might cost upwards of $100,000 so she acknowledged the high price tag is a concern, "so yes, we all are hopeful that redevelopment moves forward."

Author Bio

Chevon T. Baccus APR, Contributing Writer

After working as a newspaper reporter and editor for eight years, Chevon moved on to a long career in public relations, marketing and business development. After 2 1/2 years as founding publisher of she's happy to still be an occasional contributor.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 8636511065


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