Vacant former Glass Bank site in Cocoa Beach to be transformed

The site of the iconic "Glass Bank Building" in Cocoa Beach — now a vacant lot — could soon be experiencing a rebirth, with an ambitious plan for a six-story hotel, including a restaurant and space-launch viewing area on the top floor, plus retail on the ground floor.

Cocoa Beach resident Rosalie Bianco said the $20 million to $25 million project she and other family members who own the 2.01-acre property are planning would bring a transformation to that area of the city. Black End Table Company

Vacant former Glass Bank site in Cocoa Beach to be transformed

The Glass Bank Building at 505 N. Orlando Ave./State Road A1A once housed a bank, a health club, professional offices and the upscale Ramon's Rainbow Room restaurant, known to have astronauts among its patrons. At the top of the building at one time was a penthouse apartment.

The building was already showing signs of neglect when it was badly damaged by hurricanes in 2004. It was torn down in late-2014 and early-2015, following years of legal disputes.

Bianco envisions a boutique hotel, with suites that include two bedrooms, a living room and a dining area that would rent for $200 to $400 a night. The hotel would be called "Stina House," a name that comes from the middle name of Bianco's late sister, Luisa Stina DeLillo.

In addition, there would be a 125-seat continental restaurant on the top floor, which Bianco said would be reminiscent of the setup of Ramon's Rainbow Room restaurant.

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"Walkability shopping in this downtown gateway area is what Cocoa Beach is missing," said Bianco, who has lived in Cocoa Beach since 1979 and owns a design/build firm in Colorado, creating sophisticated outdoor spaces. She and other family members also have purchased, renovated and resold a number of properties in Cocoa Beach.

Bianco's family at one time owned the Italian Courtyard restaurant in Cocoa Beach.

Bianco said the plan would be for her company to operate the hotel, but lease the restaurant and retail space to other entities to run.

In all, the hotel, restaurant and retail operations would have 70 or more employees, Bianco said.

Bianco's company, Stina Cocoa Beach LLC, purchased the Glass Bank property in 2021 for $2.2 million. At the time, Bianco had thought that, based on property records, the site had 2.64 acres, which would have allowed construction of a 74-room hotel, under city density restrictions of 28 units per acre. But subsequent surveys of the property found that is was only 2.01 acres, which would allow just 56 hotel units.

Bianco plans to ask the Cocoa Beach City Commission to approve a variance that would allow the hotel to have 60 units, which she says would make the project that includes the restaurant and retail space more financially viable. Without the four additional hotel units, Bianco said, she might have to scale back the hotel project to eliminate the restaurant and retail components.

Bianco believes the city's comprehensive plan would provide leeway to get a variance for the additional two units per acre, if the project includes "mixed-use" components. She plans to bring the proposal before the City Commission sometime during the next two months.

The height of the proposed development would not be an issue, because the site is zoned for a building height of as tall as 82 feet.

Cocoa Beach Mayor Keith Capizzi said he is excited about the project.

"I'd like to see something nice go there," Capizzi said. "I think it would be a pretty cool project."

But Capizzi cautioned that he and other members of the City Commission probably would not want to see the city's density requirement overridden by a development that had too many units per acre.

Capizzi said he plans to meet with Bianco and other city officials to discuss how the proposed mixed-use development could remain within the confines of what's allowed on the site.

To purchase the property, Bianco said, she needed to resolve various legal and title issues. But she says she now does not want to endeavor in more legal battles over the "devastating" discrepancy in the size of the property. Rather, she wants to move forward with the hotel project.

"This downtown Cocoa Beach gateway property has been abandoned for years, plagued with tragedy, lawsuits and bad energy," Bianco said, adding that she wants to change that with the proposed Stina House development.

If the City Commission approves the project, Bianco said it could break ground in 2025 and open in 2026.

Bianco said she doesn't want to change the character of that section of Cocoa Beach, and would give the hotel a tiered look, so it does not appear overly tall from ground level.

"This is a surf town, and I love it that way," Bianco said. "Stina House would be classy, but would fit into the Cocoa Beach vibe."

Vacant former Glass Bank site in Cocoa Beach to be transformed

Wooden Slab Table Supplier Dave Berman is business editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Berman at, on X at @bydaveberman and on Facebook at