Beach resort once owned by dog up for sale

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SARASOTA, Fla. - When the ‘Queen of Mean’, Leona Helmsley died, she left her famous hotel on Lido Beach to her dog Trouble, who called the Sandcastle Hotel home until his death two years ago. Now the building is up for sale.

The Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel is located on what realtors say is a platinum piece of property, but it may not be a hotel for much longer.

In the 1950's Lido Key was one of the first area beaches to build hotels. The Sarasota County History Center says the population ballooned in the '50s, and to keep up with the influx of vacationers, developers began building more hotels and resorts along the beaches.

In 1953, the Helmsley Sandcastle Resort opened its doors for the first time on Lido Key Beach. But after 60 years, the property – which was passed on to Trouble after Helmsley died in 2007 -- is for sale.

Trouble lived at the hotel until his death 2 years ago, and now the Helmsley's charitable trust has placed the hotel in the hands of the commercial brokerage firm CBRE to sell the property.

CBRE is marketing the listing as a future site for condominiums.

“It's sad news because it is our home away from home, but we realize, you know, progress. This is what happens in life.” For fifteen years, Robert Bunston has escaped the Canadian cold to come stay at the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel. But now he, like many others who fill the 177 rooms each year, needs to find another place to stay among the very few remaining waterfront hotels.

“It's a win-win as far as condos and residences are concerned. It's a loss for a hotel,” says Barry Seidel, president of American Property Group.

Suncoast real estate professionals say the city would rather build condos than hotels on the water because they have the potential to be more profitable. “I think that it will impact it negatively in one way, but it's going to bring an awful lot of other people that are going to live in those condos, and they're going to shop in our shops and they're going to eat in our restaurants.”

CBRE says the deadline for offers on the Helmsley Sandcastle Resort is December 10th.