New life for long-abandoned downtown courthouse - FOX 35 News Orlando

New life for long-abandoned downtown courthouse

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A long-abandoned Tampa landmark is finally being restored to its original beauty. The old Federal Courthouse is being converted into a four-star hotel, set to open its doors downtown in just over a year.

The four-story structure is being transformed into a premiere 130-room Le Meridien Hotel.

"We're going to convert the inside spaces into a restaurant and lounges and lobbies so the public can come in and enjoy the spaces," said project architect and interior designer Kobi Karp.

The old courthouse building dates back to 1905. Developers say they plan to restore its accents to what it looked like a century ago.

"What we're really doing is we're recycling this building. A full restoration and preservation. Removing the additions and modifications that were put on it in the '70s and '80s," Karp said Wednesday.

Developers plan to play on the building's rich history and Neoclassical-style, optimizing one-of-a-kind details like its original marble and stone.

"It's very regal, very imposing. You hear the expression, 'dress to impress.' These were buildings that were built to impress. When you entered them, you were meant to feel small," said Tampa Historical Society president Maureen Patrick.

Once complete in spring 2014, city leaders say the diamond in the rough will once again be a downtown destination.

"When we cut the ribbon on this hotel, it will be an iconic structure in the city of Tampa that will anchor it and will lead to so many more opportunities that have already started to occur," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Wednesday.

This isn't the first time Le Meridien worked to turn an abandoned building into a top-notch hotel. They recently completed a project in Philadelphia where they converted a historic YMCA building into one of their signature hotels.

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