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Detroit Hotel's owners should support landmark designation

Don't rush hotel designation Dec. 6, Sandra Gadsden column

Landmark status could help owners

The Detroit Hotel is clearly worthy of designation as a local landmark. The Detroit is both the oldest and most historic building in St. Petersburg, dating from the city's birth. It was constructed by city founders Peter Demens and John C. Williams Sr. For many years it was the cultural and social center of the city. Its owners have included such city leaders as C. Perry Snell, Mayor Frank Fortune Pulver, and Nancy Merrill.

In 1988, as part of the city's Centennial Celebration, a bronze plaque was placed in front of the hotel commemorating it as the city's first hotel. The plaque remains in place to this day. The Detroit is a contributing structure to the Downtown National Historic District. Designation of the Detroit as a local landmark has been recommended by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker and was recently unanimously approved by the City Community Preservation Commission by a vote of 7 to 0.

A number of advantages can accrue to owners of locally designated landmarks. Owners can receive greater flexibility in regard to building code requirements, qualify for significant local and federal tax exemptions, and can sell excess development credits.

Designation of a building as a landmark would require review and approval of exterior building changes but would not affect interior alternations. Were the Detroit already designated a landmark, some of the building repair expenses mentioned in Sandra Gadsden's article may have qualified for tax credits or preservation grants.

Despite the fact that owner consent is not required by city ordinance before a building can be designated a landmark, St. Petersburg Preservation would very much like to have owner support for the landmarking if at all possible. While recognizing the great historic importance of the Detroit, the City Council in their recent meeting has requested city staff to again offer to meet with the owners to further discuss the benefits of landmarking and other concerns. St. Petersburg Preservation will fully cooperate with the city in further efforts to fully listen to owner concerns and again seek owner support.

Will Michaels, Peter Belmont, Bill Heller, Jay Lasita, Priscilla Cooper, St. Petersburg Preservation

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It is hard to believe that we are asking a hard-working family to get out of our country. Officials should prevent this from happening.

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Gerald Richard, Seminole

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Detroit Hotel's owners should support landmark designation 12/19/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 19, 2009 3:30am]

    

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