Former St. Augustine Cuban cigar factory to become boutique hotel

Action News Jax at 5:00 p.m.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — A former Cuban cigar factory will soon become a boutique hotel in historic St. Augustine.

The newest addition to the oldest city will not only preserve history but also bring with it, hundreds of jobs.

The four-story building at the corner of Riberia Street and Sebastian Harbor Drive is now home to several businesses that lease office space there.

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Ryan Westover has his real estate office in the building and he’s aware of its history.

“This was actually where all the tobacco was hung, back in the day when it was a cigar factory,” said Westover.

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The building was completed in 1909, and the historical marker that sits outside details how it’s the final remnant of what was once a booming cigar-making industry in St. Augustine.

Many Cuban immigrants brought the trade to Florida in the mid to late-19th century.

The Solla-Carcaba company sold pure Havana “caballeros” until it failed in 1917 and sold its assets to the Pamies-Arango Cigar Company.

Now a new page will be written for the building when it becomes a 50-room boutique hotel.

The president and CEO of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors Convention Bureau, Richard Goldman, said an upscale hotel is much needed.

“Our moderate and budget-priced inventory has been very strong for some time. Getting the more sophisticated, more affluent and upscale market is an area that we’ve been in need of,” said Goldman.

The hotel will be part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton.

Jalaram Hotels, which owns the property, said it’ll employ 200 people from start to finish.

Westover is excited about the change, even though his office will have to relocate.

“Whenever you have growth you’ve got to adapt. We are willing to do that,” he said.

The exterior of the building will stay the same.

Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2021 and completed in late 2022.