Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Once a center of attention, Seminole Heights building faces demolition

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — A man working on wooden boards atop the Praise Cathedral tugged at a tool stuck in the roof and fell through. He landed on his back 20 feet beneath a gaping hole just as many feet wide.

City code enforcement inspectors condemned the building on July 30.

For the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association, it shows that the building could be put to a better community use. But owner Patricia Hall doesn't plan on moving from the property she bought for $10 in 1985.

Hall said a storm damaged the roof a few years ago and her church is seeking funding for repairs at 5103 N Florida Ave.

Repairs cost more than $500,000, the city's condemnation report estimates.

"That's our life there," said Hall, also pastor of the independent church. "You don't just do things overnight."

A demolition order, commonly issued after a condemnation, should go to Hall next week. She would have 30 days to respond, according to a city clerk.

Inspectors report the building is dilapidated and unstable. Mold, trash and debris cover the vinyl floors. A city fire inspection report says it is unsafe and dangerous after the collapse.

The structure itself isn't in the National Register of Historic Places, but it sits in a historic area of Seminole Heights. The city would require a hearing before a demolition, said Ann McDonald, a member on the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association's historic preservation committee.

During the building's heyday as the Seminole Theatre, a dress shop and a Piggly Wiggly grocery sandwiched it. Movies played most nights, and sometimes there were dancers and acrobats.

"You know, it was the center of the neighborhood, really," McDonald said.

Margaret McAlister was born in a Seminole Heights bungalow in 1923, the year the theater was built. The 85-year-old, when she was a girl, walked there every Friday night. Her father made flower arrangements weekly for the box office in exchange for five movie tickets.

She hopes Hall can fix the building to serve the neighborhood again. If not, she'd like to see it as a community center or place for children.

The old theater should be an attraction to a part of town without many destinations for locals, and it's a shame the church sat on it for years without proper upkeep, said Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association president Jeff Harmon.

The association would like to buy the property, but isn't sure the group can afford it.

Property records list the building with a $663,246 value.

"It's a wait-and-see," he said.

For now, there's still an empty lot to the building's side and an unmarked building across from it. And Hall said the church isn't interested in selling. She rejected several offers over the years.

"We want to restore it totally," Hall said. "God gave us that building. We're here and we're trying to protect ourselves."

Ileana Morales can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Once a center of attention, Seminole Heights building faces demolition 08/12/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  4. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.
  5. Trump awards Medal of Honor to Vietnam-era Army medic (w/video)

    Military

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday turned a Medal of Honor ceremony for a Vietnam-era Army medic who risked his life to help wounded comrades into a mini homework tutorial for the boy and girl who came to watch their grandfather be enshrined "into the history of our nation."

    WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23:  Retired U.S. Army Capt. Gary Rose (L) receives a standing ovation after being awarded the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Donald Trump during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Rose, 69, is being recognized for risking his life while serving as a medic with the 5th Special Force Group and the Military Assistance Command Studies and Observations Group during ‘Operation Tailwind’ in September 1970. Ignoring his own injuries, Rose helped treat 50 soldiers over four days when his unit joined local fighters to attack North Vietnamese forces in Laos - officially off limits for combat at the time.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 775062921