Somehow, despite the constant churn of Florida real estate, the decades-long dilapidation, and the drug-use problem that plagued the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida, the facility remains in pretty much the same configuration today as it did when it was built in 1941. That includes the Ebony Club, a rooftop bar where Bill France laid out his plans for NASCAR, which makes the hotel’s upcoming auction more than just another real-estate transaction.
The auction comes five years after the hotel’s renovation at the hands of real-estate developer and Daytona Beach native Eddie Hennessy, who told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that his only interest in the property was to clean it up, not to run it as a hotel.
“I’m not a hotelier, not a restaurateur, not a bar owner,” Hennessy told the News-Journal. “I did this (Streamline) to start a movement in Daytona and clean up the beachside.”
Located at the intersection of South Atlantic Avenue and Kemp Street — well up A1A from the original Daytona Beach stock car racing course — the four-story Streamline Hotel incorporated many of its namesake architectural movement’s defining features. Its architect, Alan MacDonough, had spent much of the Thirties designing public buildings for the Works Progress Administration, among them the Daytona Beach bandshell and the Daytona Beach armory.
At the time Albert Y. Hutchinson constructed the hotel in 1941, stock car racing took place throughout the South under half a dozen different sanctioning bodies, all with different rules, and race promoters couldn’t be trusted to stick around until the end of the races to hand out the prize money. France, who’d moved to Daytona Beach in 1934 and raced stock cars on the beaches there, had grown dismayed by the state of stock car racing, so in 1946 he started the National Championship Stock Car Circuit to provide some organization for the sport.
After two successful seasons, France decided it was time to extend an offer to other racers and promoters to join him, so he set up a meeting for December 14-17, 1947, at the Streamline Hotel. About three dozen stock car racing promoters, racers, and mechanics — some of them from as far away as New England and the Midwest — attended, among them Marshall Teague, Red Vogt, Raymond Parks, and Bob and Fonty Flock. France also made sure to invite racing journalists and local officials to show that he was serious. As H.A. Branham wrote in Bill France Jr.: The Man Who Made NASCAR
Cantankerous and contentious at times, they were first brought together by the sheer force of Bill Sr.’s personality and then won over, somewhat grudgingly, by his will.”
Those early meetings, which lasted through February of 1948, bore a racing juggernaut, and throughout the decades, the buildings owners and operators never forgot the building’s role in the foundation of NASCAR. The Daytona Beach city commission even listed it on the local register of historic places in March 1999 for its role in stock car racing history.
That’s not to say it remained a shrine to NASCAR over the decades. The hotel at some point became a religious retreat, then a youth hostel, then reverted to a hotel and bar. Though a previous owner made an attempt at restoring the Streamline sometime in the early 2000s, it remained largely run-down and dated, and soon became a hotspot for drug use and prostitution. The city of Daytona Beach reportedly considered buying the hotel via its redevelopment board in 2006, as did the Victory Lane Racing Association in 2011, but neither proceeded with their plans to develop the hotel into a racing-themed attraction.
Even when Hennessy bought the hotel in March 2014 for $950,000 with plans to renovate it into a boutique hotel, it remained problematic. Twenty of the hotel’s 47 rooms were residential, and he told the News-Journal that he had to hire full-time security guards to address the crime problems.
More than $6 million and an appearance on the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible later, Hennessy opened the hotel in June 2017. The original vertical sign had made its way back to the hotel’s facade and the Ebony Club, which had at one point been renamed the Penthouse Lounge, reopened under its original name.
While the starting bid for the hotel is $2.3 million, Hennessy told the News-Journal that his reserve price for the Streamline is $7.5 million.
The auction will take place online April 1-3. For more information, visit Ten-X.com.