Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Business

Chinsegut Hill Manor House primed for turnaround

BROOKSVILLE — Just a few months ago, supporters of the historic Chinsegut Hill Manor House almost felt like throwing in the towel.

Turned down by agency after agency in their quest to keep the 165-year-old landmark and its picturesque grounds from being "surplussed" — or sold to a private buyer — the nonprofit Friends of Chinsegut Hill made a last ditch pitch to the Hernando County Commission. It asked the commission to underwrite a plan to lease the facility from the state and keep it in public hands.

When commissioners gave the go-ahead in January for economic development manager Mike McHugh to negotiate a lease with state, things began to turn around.

Public support for the facility blossomed. Local and regional preservation groups pledged to donate money and raise more in the future. And last week, Friends learned that the 2013-14 budget proposed by state lawmakers includes $1.5 million to help restore the antebellum plantation house.

"We're on the home stretch right now," said Friends member Christie Anderberg, who three years ago helped spearhead the move to save the manor house. "It looks as if we're going to finally get this done."

For now, Anderberg's biggest concern is securing the county's lease before the state's June 1 deadline. At the same time, she is rallying support to encourage Gov. Rick Scott to keep the money for Chinsegut in the budget.

"I sent out about 100 emails last week asking people who love Chinsegut to help us out by writing Gov. Scott," Anderberg said. "That money will go a long way to solving a lot of issues with the house."

McHugh said on Tuesday that he and his staff are putting the final touches on a five-year lease agreement that he will present to county commissioners on May 21. It will name Friends of Chinsegut Hill as the tenant of the house and its surrounding 114-acre preserve. McHugh said he expects the commission to approve the plan.

"A lot of people have worked hard to make this all come about," McHugh said. "This is an important asset for the county, and it makes sense to do what we can to keep it open and available to the public."

Anderberg said that Friends is continuing to move forward with plans to bring the historic landmark up to a standard where it can be made marketable as an environmental education center and tourist destination. A $14,000 structural evaluation by Preservation Resource of Brooksville that was paid for by the Friends revealed minor problems with the building's foundation. Fixing them would cost about $20,000, Anderberg said.

Meanwhile, the group is continuing to raise money to match a $50,000 challenge grant it was recently awarded by the Felburn Foundation. The effort so far has netted about $11,000.

Anderberg said that once the lease is signed, her group plans to hold some events on the grounds of the facility, which has been closed to the public for two years.

"We're very anxious for people to be able to come out and see what a beautiful place it is," Anderberg said.

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

Comments
Many Americans still cannot afford a $400 set back

Many Americans still cannot afford a $400 set back

Could you pay an unexpected $400 expense?More than four in 10 Americans said they couldn’t without borrowing money or selling something, according to the Federal Reserve’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households released Tuesday.That’s a...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Target: New Tampa, Clearwater stores part of company-wide makeovers

Target: New Tampa, Clearwater stores part of company-wide makeovers

Target is renovating more than 1,000 stores by the end of 2020, including two SuperTarget locations in New Tampa and Clearwater.The Clearwater store’s makeover — which the corporation calls ‘‘reimagining" — just wrapped up, according to Target spoke...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Downtown St. Pete Ford’s Garage and Yeoman’s to open Wednesday

Downtown St. Pete Ford’s Garage and Yeoman’s to open Wednesday

ST. PETERSBURG — Ford’s Garage, a car junkie’s haven, has proven to be popular eatery across the state.Now it has a chance to drive customers to its seats in St. Petersburg. The restaurant opens its ninth location downtown Wednesday at 200 First Ave....
Updated: 4 hours ago

The hostile work environment checklist: How toxic is yours?

Workplace stress is hardly a new phenomenon. Everyone has a bad day (or even month) at work now and then. Your client presentation didn’t go as well as planned; your boss didn’t fall head over heels for your proposal; you had to stay late to finish a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Career Q&A:

Career Q&A:

Q: Despite having a stellar employment record, I am concerned about two incidents mentioned during my recent performance review. Both involved accusations which were completely unfair.Several months ago, our human resources manager told me that I was...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa-backed company with candy-like coffee thins inks deal with Dunkin’ Donuts

Tampa-backed company with candy-like coffee thins inks deal with Dunkin’ Donuts

TAMPA — Tampa-based private equity firm ProspEquity Partners paid $18.2 million less than three weeks ago for a two-thirds stake in Tierra Nueva, a Miami company with a new idea for coffee, and already it has some big news.Tierra Nueva has inked a de...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Proud mom orders ‘Summa Cum Laude’ cake online. Publix censors it to ‘Summa . Laude.’

Saturday was Jacob Kosinski’s big day. His whole family, many from out of town, saw the Charleston, South Carolina, student graduate from his Christian-based homeschool program with a 4.89 grade point average and the coveted honor of summa cum laude....
Updated: 8 hours ago
It’s picking time at Brooksville blackberry farm, one of a handful in the region

It’s picking time at Brooksville blackberry farm, one of a handful in the region

BROOKSVILLE — Black follows blue in the berry patches of Hernando County, but blackberry proponents claim they’re worth waiting for.Today’s blackberry brambles are thornless and don’t require bending over to pick. Their fruits are mouth-full juicier,...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Amazon is selling facial recognition to Orlando law enforcement - for a fistful of dollars

Amazon is selling facial recognition to Orlando law enforcement - for a fistful of dollars

Amazon has been providing facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies in Oregon and Orlando for only a few dollars a month, according to documents obtained by American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, paving the way for a rollou...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Report: Downtown Tampa has least amount of vacant land of top 25 metros

Report: Downtown Tampa has least amount of vacant land of top 25 metros

Tampa is facing major landscape changes as projects like Water Street Tampa gear up. But despite the ongoing and upcoming major development, a new CommercialCafé study says, downtown Tampa has a big challenge with the least amount of vacant land of a...
Updated: 8 hours ago