Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

As North Ward school goes on the market, city considers its historic status

North Ward Secondary School sits vacant at 327 11th Ave. N, just off Fourth Street. It closed in 2008.

LARA CERRI | Times

North Ward Secondary School sits vacant at 327 11th Ave. N, just off Fourth Street. It closed in 2008.

ST. PETERSBURG — A preservation group's push to get North Ward Secondary School designated as a landmark is colliding with plans by Pinellas school officials to sell the long-vacant building.

The issue is expected to go before the City Council in April.

Set back from the bustling corridor of Fourth Street N, the two mission-style buildings facing 11th Avenue are surrounded by a chain link fence. North Ward opened a century ago as an elementary school on what then was the edge of town and later became an alternative school, North Ward Secondary.

The Pinellas County School District, citing the facility's poor condition, closed it in 2008. The school has remained vacant since.

In December, after learning the district intended to sell the property, St. Petersburg Preservation Inc. and the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association jointly filed an application for historic designation. The 1-acre lot went on the market for $2.5 million in November, but the price soon dropped to $1.75 million.

"From our perspective, it's something that needed to be sold," said Michael Bessette, Pinellas schools' associate superintendent for operational services.

The district won a postponement from the city in February. But the preservation and neighborhood groups celebrated a small victory earlier this month when the city's Community Planning and Preservation Commission recommended to the City Council that the school receive historic designation. The council will have the final say when it meets April 17.

The district contends the designation would make it difficult for a new owner to renovate or demolish the buildings, limiting its ability to sell the property. Any modification would require approval from the commission.

So far, the district has received three offers, including one that would turn the school into doctors' offices, but those have fallen through.

North Ward could be converted into uses such as a private school, a museum, a string of gift shops or a law firm, said neighborhood association president Peter Motzenbecker.

"We think it's one of the last-standing historical structures on Fourth Street," he said, "and to lose it, it would affect the overall charm of the neighborhood." The property is zoned for commercial use.

Even if North Ward is designated as a landmark, the school district still will try to sell the property, Bessette said.

Though school officials are trying to get top dollar, St. Petersburg Preservation vice president Peter Belmont said they should keep in mind that historic designation has its perks: The new owner could receive tax incentives for reusing historic property.

"The School Board basically wants as much money as possible and they don't care about what happens to the building or thereafter," he said. "And that's disappointing to me."

Colleen Wright can be reached at cwright@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @Colleen_Wright on Twitter.

As North Ward school goes on the market, city considers its historic status 03/28/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 2:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. See you later, alligator! Reptile captured off Miami Beach (w/video)

    Wildlife

    MIAMI BEACH — Police and wildlife officials captured an unwanted visitor on Miami Beach.

    An alligator was spotted swimming in the Atlantic Ocean near the South Pointe Park pier in Miami Beach on July 23, 2017. News outlets quoted viewers who said it took officials about two hours to capture the gator. No one was injured.

  2. Dog dies in hot car while owner cleans Florida condos

    Public Safety

    PANAMA CITY BEACH — Authorities say a 2-year-old Chihuahua died in a hot car while its owner was cleaning condominiums in Florida.

  3. Recipe for Nutty Quinoa Carbonara

    Cooking

    If you've never made carbonara, consider adding it to your weekday dinner lineup. It is a traditional Italian pasta dish in which eggs are mixed with cheese and then swirled into cooked pasta just before serving. The result is a luscious bowl of food you won't believe contains so few ingredients. This recipe swaps …

    Quinoa Carbonara. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  4. Jared Kushner says he has 'nothing to hide' on Russia (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is denying that President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia, saying in a statement ahead of congressional interviews that he has "nothing to hide."

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens during the "American Leadership in Emerging Technology" event with President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington on June 22, 2017. [Associated Press]
  5. Forecast: Less stormy weather to start week in Tampa Bay before chances ramp back up

    Weather

    After some stormy mornings throughout the weekend across Tampa Bay, Monday kicks off pretty quietly with a cloudy, yet mainly dry start.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]