Tuesday, November 13, 2018
News Roundup

Latest effort to save Tampa's historic Jackson House fizzles

TAMPA — It provided shelter to music legends on tour including James Brown, Billie Holiday, Nat "King" Cole and Ella Fitzgerald, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. got home-cooked meals there when he was in town.

As important to Willie Robinson, it was where his mother was born and where she died 89 years later in 2006.

But none of that will spare the Jackson Rooming House from what now seems like certain demolition as the most recent effort to save it has fizzled. The latest would-be champions for restoring the house on Zack Street in downtown Tampa, as well as city officials, say the building is in too great a state of disrepair.

"I was admittedly a little biased," said Robinson, who owns the house that his family ran for decades. "I had hoped history would trump everything else. It does not. I don't want it to be a safety hazard for the citizens of this city. Whatever it's going to be, I want the Jackson House to be remembered in a positive light."

Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden confirmed Tuesday what others had suspected. The more than 100-year-old, 24-room house was too damaged to restore without essentially rebuilding it from scratch.

Holes in the roof have allowed rain inside. The exterior of the wood-frame building is rotting in many places. Its foundation needs shoring and lead contaminates much of the wood. Pretty much every major system inside the house, from the plumbing to the electricity, is shot, Belden said.

"It's cost-prohibitive," Belden said of a restoration. "There's not a structural part of that building that can be saved right now. A strong wind would blow it over."

Belden, along with longtime friend and civic activist Marvin Knight, got involved in last-minute efforts to save the Jackson House after learning of Robinson's years-long effort to keep it from the wrecking ball. Robinson is facing daily fines from the city until the property is no longer deemed a safety hazard.

News stories have indicated that repairs on the 4,000-square-foot building could reach $1.5 million. The property has a market value estimated at $190,000, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office, most of that reflecting how much its land is worth. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Even from outside, it's clear why the house was an inviting spot to out-of-town visitors in the days before integration: a big front porch and views of the city.

"At the time of segregation, it was the place to be, the safest place to be as well as the nicest place to be," Robinson said.

But the challenges to restoring the building are obvious. Parts of the roof are slanted and there is a large hole in the rear of it. Many of the window frames are no longer true rectangles, revealing problems with the foundation.

The city had previously ordered the removal of one of the chimneys, which was in danger of falling. Since it's close to the street and parking lots, city officials fear the building is a danger to passers-by.

"We can't have something that's going to hurt people," said Bob McDonaugh, the city's administrator of economic opportunity.

Belden said he had people who offered to provide windows, landscaping and other assistance. But then he rattled off numbers that make previous estimates to repair the building appear on the mark or low.

He said Alphonso Architects has volunteered to create a scale model that could be displayed at the Tampa Bay History Center or a proposed African-American history museum at Encore, the redevelopment taking place on the site of the former Central Park Apartments public housing complex. That way, at least its legacy will be preserved, he said.

"It's a sad situation," Belden said. "But we gave it everything we had."

Bill Varian can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3387.

     
Comments
First-time millennial homebuyers willing to wait for Florida's market to cool

First-time millennial homebuyers willing to wait for Florida's market to cool

Millennials want to buy homes, but they are cautious, waiting to see if prices might fall.
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Will clock run out on Florida recount?; Millennials and their home-buying habits; Bucs make change at kicker

The Daystarter: Will clock run out on Florida recount?; Millennials and their home-buying habits; Bucs make change at kicker

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today. • Slight chance of showers later this morning and a chance of early afternoon thunderstorms, according to the National Weather Service. Skies will be partly sunny with a high nea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Innovative Red Tide bad air forecast tool working well, but info can be hard to find

Innovative Red Tide bad air forecast tool working well, but info can be hard to find

An experimental tool to provide forecasts for which beaches have bad air because of Red Tide seems to be working, but users are having trouble finding its important information.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tarpon Springs man calls 911 to report he fatally shot father, police say

Tarpon Springs man calls 911 to report he fatally shot father, police say

A Tarpon Springs man is in custody after he told 911 operators he shot his father early Tuesday morning following a domestic dispute.
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Nov. 12

Boys soccerIndian Rocks Christian 3, Bishop McLaughlin 0
Updated: 6 hours ago
Five vegan recipe ideas for Thanksgiving

Five vegan recipe ideas for Thanksgiving

Holiday foods for your meat-free friends.
Published: 11/13/18
Want to sell your home quickly for cash? Here's a new option for Tampa Bay sellers

Want to sell your home quickly for cash? Here's a new option for Tampa Bay sellers

Coldwell Banker is teaming up with Home Partners of America on a pilot progam that lets Coldwell sales agents present cash offers to their clients in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Update: With cool front on the way, tropical disturbance in the Atlantic looks less likely to form

Update: With cool front on the way, tropical disturbance in the Atlantic looks less likely to form

Increasingly, it looks like a late-season tropical disturbance in the Atlantic Ocean will not develop as forecasters originally thought it might.“This system has not become any better organized over the past 24 hours, and environmental conditi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies investigating woman's death in Lake Egypt Estates

Hillsborough Sheriff's deputies investigating woman's death in Lake Egypt Estates

Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies responded to the scene of a suspicious death at about 8p.m. Monday in the Lake Egypt Estates neighborhood near Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs sign placekicker Cairo Santos

Bucs sign placekicker Cairo Santos

TAMPA — The Bucs signed placekicker Cairo Santos to replace Chandler Catanzaro, the team announced Monday night.Santos will become the Bucs' seventh placekicker since the beginning of the 2015 season.He owns a 84.1 field-goal conversion percent...
Updated: 1 hour ago