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Want a free house? Dunedin has a deal for you

Dunedin officials are offering to give away the ramshackle house on the Weaver property near downtown that’s destined to become a public park.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Dunedin officials are offering to give away the ramshackle house on the Weaver property near downtown that’s destined to become a public park.

DUNEDIN — Available: A two-story, three-bedroom house built in the 1930s from the stones of the Anclote River. The termite-bitten, rotten-wood fixer-upper is in need of love, care and a flatbed truck.

It could be yours for free — if you come and get it.

Known to locals as the "stone house," it sits in the way of the three-year-long purchase, planning and renovation of Dunedin's Weaver property. It could be a $200,000 deal — the house's last appraisal — for anyone with a contractor's license and a plot to place it. Or it could crumble.

"To be honest, I don't even know if it would survive the move," said city Parks and Recreation director Vince Gizzi. "We just didn't want to let it go without letting the public have the opportunity to use it."

City officials plan to turn the 6-acre property straddling Bayshore Boulevard into Josiah Cephus Weaver Park, named for the land's former owner and situated only one-half mile from Main Street. But first they need to finish the park's design, find money to develop it and lose the stones.

"It's not a historic home, per se. It's a unique home with a history in the town," said Vinnie Luisi, director of the Dunedin Historical Museum. "It would be a shame to take it down if someone could make it a home."

Three other structures, including a $1.3 million home built in 1915, a 1920s bungalow and an 1980s duplex, also sat on the property when it was purchased by the city last year. The duplex has since been demolished, Gizzi said. City leaders plan on turning the other homes into a coastal education center and an art studio.

Or so they hope.

Gizzi admits the city has yet to find funding for the park's construction, though three grant applications will be answered by September. Both Gizzi and City Manager Rob DiSpirito said they felt confident the park's construction would be covered by outside grants and volunteer labor. The $7 million price tag for the land was split evenly between the county and a Florida Communities Trust grant.

Gizzi said a conceptual design for the east side of the park, which could be opened within the next six months, features two pavilions, some walking paths and a Pinellas Trail extension to the waters of St. Joseph Sound. Future plans for the coastal grounds across Bayshore include a revamped pier, a kayak launch and an amphitheater for sunset concerts.

But all that takes money. Hence, the stone-home giveaway. The city had plans to revamp it into bathrooms, Gizzi said, but feared salvage costs. The Dunedin Historical Society, also strapped for cash, didn't want it either.

DiSpirito said the city is unsure about the cost of moving the house, though the move of a house in Clearwater three years ago ran $120,000.

Gizzi said he hopes a taker will emerge soon, though he has gotten only one inquiry so far. That person just wanted the stones. Gizzi declined. It's a package deal.

Drew Harwell can be reached at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Want a free house? Dunedin has a deal for you 06/24/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 8:06pm]
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