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Neighborhood named after former St. Pete mayor gets historical designation

St. Petersburg prides itself as being a city of neighborhoods. And many of them take on the moniker of "historic."

Yet in truth, there are only two locally designated historic districts in the city: the Roser Park neighborhood near Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, and a portion of the Old Northeast neighborhood just off downtown.

On Thursday, city officials approved a third.

Residents of Lang's Bungalow Court, a cluster of century-old bungalows not far from Mirror Lake, successfully convinced the City Council that their neighborhood deserved preservation.

"It is a very special little spot," said Lori Price, a board member of St. Petersburg Preservation, which helped residents with their application. "The only way to protect a historical neighborhood is through local designation. It protects their investment. It stabilizes property values."

Several neighbors spoke in favor of the designation at Thursday's meeting.

Peter Belmont, interim vice president of the preservation board, said residents asked for help earlier this year after they learned that the St. Petersburg Free Clinic was considering putting a parking lot on a piece of property it bought in January.

Neighbors didn't want that. They said they have worked hard to turn around Lang's Court, named after former mayor Al Lang, in recent years.

"It was a community in blight and a community going down," said resident Cesar Morales. "People saw the value in these houses. When one person does that, another follows"

No one from the Free Clinic attended Thursday's meeting.

Price said with the designation, future and current property owners will be required to preserve the historical characteristics and standards of the neighborhood.

"New Orleans has many of these," she said. "Now we have three. We're on a roll."

Council members said they were happy to approve the measure.

"For a long time I've been advocating we do things before it gets to a critical point," said council chairman Bill Dudley. "This is the way it's supposed to be done."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at kstanley@tampabay.com, (727) 893-8643 or on Twitter @cornandpotatoes.

Neighborhood named after former St. Pete mayor gets historical designation 06/05/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2014 1:49pm]
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