Tampa Bay residents, tourists and history nerds alike will soon be able to take a tour through the three-story El Reloj museum, and then take a stroll across E Columbus Drive to J.C. Newman's newest all-inclusive concept—slated to open by the end of 2023.
The cigar company will follow the original layout of the century-old building, opening the cigar lounge and restaurant on the ground floor, with hotel rooms occupying the upper levels. J.C. Newman purchased the decrepit building last summer for $650,000, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's website.
Before any construction can begin, up to 10,000 bats must be relocated from Sanchez y Haya to bat homes located across the street in a grassy lot also owned by J.C. Newman. The Fly By Night nonprofit aka "The Bat Specialists" will be responsible for the daunting task of bat relocation—a process that must start soon. Laura Finn of Fly by Night told Paul Guzzo that relocation has to start before the upcoming maternity season—which runs from April to August—or it can be fatal to many of the bats, especially their pups. No one will know how many bats occupy the old building until they're extracted sometime next year.
According to Drew Newman, general counsel and great-grandson of the founder, the grassy lot across from the hotel will eventually be turned into a park in which museum visitors and hotel guests can watch bats fly to and from their new homes.
Full restoration of the Sanchez y Haya hotel—which was built by two of Ybor's most successful cigar-men Serafin Sanchez and Ignacio Haya—will take a few years and a few millions, but no one's sure how long bat relocation will take.
As if another massive rehabilitation project and bat relocation wasn't too much for the J.C. Newman Cigar Co., it also plans to start offering cigar rolling classes out of its new museum soon.
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