TAMPA, Fla. — It’s been a long road, but construction is finally underway at an abandoned cigar factory in west Tampa to have it converted into a hotel.

What You Need To Know

  •  A former cigar factory is being converted into a boutique hotel

  •  The hotel, once complete, will be 70 rooms in total

  •  While the current owner hasn't specified how much the project will cost, it's expected to be millions of dollars in renovations

  • The hotel is expected to be opened to guests near the end of 2024

The multi-million-dollar project is renovating the Balbin Brothers Cigar Factory, which was built in 1904.

“This is the way that we make it, uh, completely strong, the building,” said Oscar Gaviria, the project’s superintendent.

A strong building is fitting for a project like this because it’s sturdy physically and has a rich history that they hope to preserve and expand.

“Something is different, something changes every day--the situation and the job site,” Gaviria said.

The Balbin Brothers moved into the spot around 1911 and from then to now, the names of the tenants have changed, and the building has seen better days.

But, after years of owning the building, Cigar Factory Tampa LLC is beginning to finalize their vision with the space which is expected to cost millions of dollars.

For Gaviria, he’s done projects like this in other countries, but this is his first in the U.S.

It’s a large project that he expects will take another year and a half to complete.

“I’m not alone in the job,” Gaviria said. “I have a lot of people that work with me in this project that made me easy with the situation because every time I have any doubt I know where to go.”

Not only to his guys on the site, but for people like Brook Charles, who is one of the interior designers for the soon-to-be hotel.

“It still looks like a mess to me,” she said, “but I know it's going to be stunning.”

According to Charles, their goal with this space is mixing both the history of this place with modern touches.

“It's very challenging to incorporate what people like to in today's society and making it mixed with historic,” she said.

But she, and the rest of the folks a part of the project, are up to the task.

That’s what Gaviria appreciates about the work, like when he sees his crew replacing old brick on the exterior that had fallen off or decayed over the years with new brick.

“We try to match the news with the old ones,” Gaviria said.

Because to, the people working here, it’s about preserving a piece of west Tampa history in a building that they hope will soon see better days.

The current owners bought the building back in 2016 and expect the building to be open to guests sometime at the end of 2024.