Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Historic Lang's Bungalow Court seeks historic designation

ST. PETERSBURG — Cesar Morales and his wife, Danni, stumbled across their charming Lang Court home on Craigslist.

To them, they struck gold.

After traveling for 18 months, they rented in a cluster of century-old bungalows tucked between Calla Terrace and Fourth Avenue N, just south of Interstate 375.

From Fourth Avenue, it's hard to spot the site where St. Petersburg's former mayor, Al Lang, bought plots of land to mimic the popular bungalow courts of California. Just a small sign atop the iron entryway, "Historic Lang's Bungalow Court, Est. 1915," and an encompassing white concrete wall mark the only bungalow court in the city.

In this tight-knit community, children play on front porches. The neighbors, half of whom are renters, rally together for block parties. The Morales' cocker-poodle Scooby-Doo romps between the neighbors' yards. Its residents consider Lang's Bungalow Court a hidden gem.

"Within the first couple of days, we felt like we were home," said Morales, 37.

From the Morales' front lawn across the iconic hexagonal brick pathway stands a vacant brick house built in 1928. The St. Petersburg Free Clinic, a nonprofit community service agency that neighbors Lang Court to the south, bought that property in January with hopes of clearing it to meet the city's parking space requirements for a new women's shelter down the street.

As of Tuesday, the house is safe from demolition and will be on sale with hopes of someone restoring it, said the clinic's executive director, Beth Houghton. But its newer garage apartment behind the house will be torn down to make space for up to five cars.

Morales, along with the other residents of Lang's Bungalow Court, fear that another parking lot on the block will only contribute to the demise of the neighborhood, which is on the rebound since the recession.

In an effort to block further demolition, residents of Lang Court turned to St. Petersburg Preservation, a nonprofit group to preserve old St. Petersburg. It filed an application last month to designate Lang Court and its 11 bungalow homes as historic.

The group's vice president, Peter Belmont, agreed bulldozing just the backyard garage apartment was better than taking the house, but said the neighborhood still faces demolition on the other side of the block, where the clinic has a contract to buy the property at 335 Lang Court, also for parking.

"I think the solution that has been reached is a better solution for the Free Clinic and it's obviously a better solution for the neighborhood," he said. "But we still have the problem on the other side of Lang Court."

A hearing with the city's community planning and preservation committee is set for April 8. Their recommendation, however, is advisory to the City Council, which will make the final decision.

"It's a small historic neighborhood," Belmont said. "It can't afford to have pieces of it chipped away, particularly where there seems to be alternatives."

Philip Lazzara, a city zoning official, explained that even after the clinic recently bought one of the Lang Court lots at the southwestern end of the block to meet the parking requirement, the clinic still would've been short of the spaces required.

Even if the lot is deemed historic, the clinic may be able to bulldoze the garage apartment with approval from the community planning and preservation committee, Lazzara said.

A parking variance hearing is planned April 2.

Morales said the clinic's existing parking lot, facing Calla Terrace N, attracts blight to the neighborhood. Many, he said, leave trash and defecate between parked trailers.

Morales said another parking lot means "inviting more activity like that."

"We just want them to make good land-use decisions that enhances the community as a whole," he said.

But Houghton said the clinic is trying to comply with city ordinance.

"In my observation, parking is adequate," she said. "But other volunteers say they can't find parking space."

Colleen Wright can be reached at cwright@tampabay.com.

IF YOU GO

Lang's Bungalow Court Porch Party

6 p.m. Friday, 336 Lang Court N, St. Petersburg. Cost (includes neighborhood tour): $5 for members, $15 for the public. RSVP online at stpetepreservation.org/calendar.

Historic Lang's Bungalow Court seeks historic designation 03/11/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 5:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. President Trump: Nation's culture being 'ripped apart' by Civil War statue removals

    National

    WASHINGTON — Showing his characteristic refusal to back down in the face of criticism, President Donald Trump deepened his defense of Confederate war memorials Thursday, sending out a series of messages on Twitter that adopted the language and arguments of white nationalists who have opposed their removal.

    President Donald Trump points to members of the media as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday. Republican leaders on Wednesday tiptoed around Trump's extraordinary comments on white supremacists.  [Associated Press]
  2. With election heating up, Bill Nelson floods Tampa Bay

    Blogs

    Sen. Bill Nelson seems to have set up a residency in Tampa Bay, a crucial area for his upcoming re-election campaign.

    Nelson campaigns with his wife in Orlando in 2012
  3. Martinez Middle School evacuated after bomb threat

    Crime

    LUTZ — Bob Martinez Middle School has been evacuated after someone called in a bomb threat, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Another local Confederate display sparks division, this one over name of the war

    News

    TAMPA — While the Hillsborough County commission was wrestling over the future of Confederate monument at the county courthouse, a lawsuit has been playing out in court over how best to represent the Civil War across town at Veterans Memorial Park.

    Supporters of a Civil War display at Veterans Memorial Park and Museum had a brochure made to attract donations. They argue in a lawsuit that their efforts were thwarted when the park's executive committee changed their plans.
  5. Myrtle Avenue closed, man hospitalized after Clearwater bike crash

    Accidents

    CLEARWATER — Myrtle Avenue is closed in both directions following a bicycle crash that hospitalized a man with serious injuries.