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Construction to Begin this Year on a 140-room Boutique Hotel,
The Epicurean, in Tampa, Florida

To Be Developed by Bern's Steak House Owner David Laxer

By Josh Poltilove, Tampa Tribune, Fla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 02, 2012--TAMPA -- Plans are back on for The Epicurean, a boutique hotel across from the landmark Bern's Steak House. Construction is slated for sometime this year.

"The hotel is happening," Bern's spokeswoman Brooke Palmer confirmed.

Bern's long has planned for a hotel. But The Epicurean project has been on hold since 2008, when Bern's owner David Laxer announced he had been unable to secure financing.

Initial plans were to build a 75-unit boutique condominium-hotel with a spa, wine store, rooftop pool and sun deck. The condo concept meant units would be available for purchase in the mid-$200,000 range. Owners would have access to the unit 45 days a year and also share in the rental income.

Now the South Howard Avenue project will be a boutique hotel. It is expected to have about 140 rooms and be a signature property for Marriott, Palmer said.

The Bern's Steak House garage is part of the plan and will be used for hotel and restaurant customers.

Other details were sparse Tuesday. Bern's will soon make a formal announcement about the plans, Palmer said.

Laxer initially considered building apartments, then office space with ground-floor retail shops. Then he saw the nationwide trend of boutique hotels. At that point -- about 10 years ago -- Laxer brainstormed with then-executive chef Jeannie Pierola.


(c)2012 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)

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